Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Earlier this month, French telecom operator Orange announced that it is collaborating with Alphabet subsidiary Google on a 6,600 km submarine cable stretching from Virginia Beach in the US to the French Atlantic coast. The cable will be named Dunant after Henry Dunant, the first Nobel peace prize winner and founder of the Red Cross.
Dunant will be the first new submarine cable connecting the US to France in more than 15 years and will help address the huge demand for data and provide quicker and more efficient connections for Orange and Google customers. Google is working with TE SubCom to design, manufacture and lay the cable. The cable is expected to become operational by 2020.
"The role of submarine cables is often overlooked, despite their central role at the heart of our digital world" said Orange's CEO, Stephane Richard.
Orange will build and operate the landing station on the French Atlantic coast and provide the backhaul service to Paris. Orange is expected to benefit from the fast connections as it will provide the operator with a capacity of over 30 terabits per second per pair. As the carrier points out, this is enough to transfer a 1GB movie in 30 microseconds. This enhanced capacity will enable Orange to meet the expected massive growth in demand for data and content between Europe and the US for several years.
For Google's part, by investing in private cable, the company will be able to provide greater throughput and lower latency for its cloud users. The Dunant cable is part of a wave of infrastructure investments by Google that includes the Curie project, its first private intercontinental cable, connecting Chile to Los Angeles. Google has another seven cables coming online over the next two years, connecting locales such as Hong Kong, Guam, Australia, Ireland, Denmark and California.
Google made its first investment in submarine cables over a decade ago, starting a trend for other technology companies to follow suit. Large tech companies are eclipsing the bandwidth capacity of telecom operators, underscoring just how big they have become.
Google depends on active Internet usage of its customers that gives it an incentive to regulate the pipes that control its future. As cloud services become a significant portion of business models, companies need to control the vast amounts of data they're being paid to move around.