Microsoft, Facebook Teaming Up to Build Transatlantic Cable

May 26, 2016, 5:49 PM UTC
Photograph by Sean Gallup Getty Images

Microsoft (MSFT) and Facebook (FB) have agreed to jointly build a subsea cable across the Atlantic Ocean to meet growing demand for high-speed cloud and online services.

The construction of the new “MAREA” cable will begin in August and it is expected to be completed in October 2017, the companies said in a statement on Thursday.

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The 6,600-kilometer cable, the first to connect the United States with southern Europe, will be operated and managed by Telefonica SA’s telecoms infrastructure unit Telxius.

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The cable is initially designed to carry 160 terabits of data per second, the companies said.

The move comes nearly two years after Google (GOOGL), which is now Alphabet, agreed with five Asian companies to invest about $300 million to develop and operate a trans-Pacific cable network connecting the United States to Japan.

Microsoft has also been experimenting with underwater data centers under its Project Natick, and last year tested a prototype on the seafloor for four months.

For more, read: Microsoft Touts New Cross-Ocean Fiber-Optic Cabling Deals as Cloud Arms Race Continues

Underwater data centers, envisioned to be powered by renewable marine energy sources, is expected to reduce the huge cost associated with cooling data centers that generate a lot of heat, and also to reduce the distance to connected populations.

Microsoft on Thursday declined to disclose the financial details about MAREA. Facebook didn’t immediately respond for comment.