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Google funds first sub cable to cross Pacific from Japan to Canada

Google says Topaz will lower latency, even though both nations already have shorter routes to bit barns

Google has revealed it will fund a submarine cable connecting Japan and Canada.

The ad giant says the new cable – named Topaz – will be the first to take that route, and the first trans-Pacific cable to land in Canada.

The cable's Japanese landing stations will be in the prefectures of Mie and Ibaraki, both on the main island of Honshu. Canadian landings will be at Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, and in the city of Vancouver (which is not on Vancouver Island).

Google predicted the cable should be in business in 2023, and will enable "low-latency access to Search, Gmail and YouTube, Google Cloud, and other Google services, but also increasing capacity to the region for a variety of network operators in both Japan and Canada."

Those operators may well be the unnamed "local partners in Japan and Canada" that Google says are helping it to build the cable.

It's also worth considering the mention of low-latency access to Google services. While both Japan and Canada are well-endowed with datacenters, Google's list of the facilities it uses to run its non-cloud services omits both nations. Japanese users' nearest Google datacenter is in Taiwan, a Singapore facility is closer than Canada, and the nearby waters are traversed by many submarine cables. Canadian users' traffic faces very short journeys to 13 Google datacenters in the USA. Vancouver users can connect to bit barns in Oregon.

Perhaps the source of the low latency will be the fact that the 16 fiber pairs used in the cable will have a total capacity of 240 terabits per second.

The cable also employs Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS) – tech that Meta plans to use on the Apricot cable linking several south-east Asian nations.

Google has described WSS as "an efficient and software-defined way to carve up the spectrum on an optical fiber pair for flexibility in routing and advanced resilience."

Another resilience measure will see Google exchange fiber pairs with partners that operate nearby cables – a practice cable operators use to avoid the impact of physical layer networking issues. ®

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