Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius complete construction of Marea subsea cable

By:
Natalie Bannerman
Published on:

Marea, the 6,600km-long subsea cable connecting Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain is now completed and expected to go live in early 2018

Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius confirm the completed construction of 6,600km-long subsea cable from Virginia Beach to Bilbao, Spain.

The cable named Marea, which means tide in Spanish, is the highest capacity cable to cross the Atlantic, offering up to 160 Tbps. It is expected to be operational by early 2018.

Because of the choice in landing point, the Marea cable is well situated to connect to network hubs in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, while its bandwidth will help it meet the growing demand for the internet and cloud services. 

“Marea comes at a critical time,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “Submarine cables in the Atlantic already carry 55% more data than trans-Pacific routes and 40% more data than between the US and Latin America. There is no question that the demand for data flows across the Atlantic will continue to increase and Marea will provide a critical connection for the United States, Spain, and beyond.”

The cable has been built with an open framework in mind and is interoperable with a variety of networking equipment, it can therefore grow and evolve with technology, in line with future demand and user needs. 

Najam Ahmad, vice president of network engineering for Facebook, said that through Marea’s flexible design and functionality it enables the company to reach its goal to give users “deep connections and shared experiences”. He added: “Obviously, connectivity is one part of achieving that goal. Marea will help us connect people more quickly and efficiently. More broadly, robust connectivity can help a wide variety of people build relationships and collaborate between countries and across cultures.”

Photo-1-Cable-on-ship 680 width

Construction of the cable began in August 2016 and the laying of subsea cable began only five months ago. From design all the way through to construction Marea was completed in under two years – almost three times faster than the average subsea cable project.

Rafael Arranz, chief operating officer for Telxius, says: “All of these applications, especially everything that is driven by video, consume a huge amount of bandwidth. So everybody needs to be connected with a high-volume, high-bandwidth infrastructure. With its unique route, this cable is going to be able to absorb and deliver back-and-forth traffic to strengthen communications, not just across the Atlantic, but across the globe.”

As a result of the completion of the cable, the local business community in Virginia has already felt some advantages. Robert Hudome, the Virginia Beach Development Authority’s senior project development manager, said: “We’re already seeing a lot of interest in data centres being developed here because of the connectivity of the cable. And it’s not just national, it’s also international. We see this as an opportunity for a whole new industry sector to develop and bring new capital investment and jobs with it."