Microsoft’s Transatlantic Internet Cable Connects US With Europe At Ludicrous Speed

Microsoft is celebrating now that that its undersea cable between the United States and Spain has been completed. The cable is called the Marea subsea cable, with Marea being the Spanish word for tide. Microsoft and partners ran the cable between the US and Spain to help upgrade the global internet infrastructure to meet the demand for internet and cloud services.


The cable was quite the undertaking, as it resides more than 17,000 feet below the surface of the ocean in some places. Microsoft says that Marea is the most technologically advanced subsea cable crossing the Atlantic. However, Microsoft wasn't alone in funding the cable and working on the project; it also credited Facebook and Telxius as part of the driving force behind the cable project.

The cable is needed to support future demand for bandwidth heavy services like Facebook Live, Skype, streaming media, and other types of digital content. The cable was completed in less than two years, which is about three times faster than normal for a cable of that scope. Statistics on the cable itself are hard to wrap your head around; the continuous cable is over 4,000 miles long and weighs in at a total of 10.25 million pounds.

Microsoft wrote, "The Marea cable’s new 'open' design allows it to evolve with technology, ensuring the highest performance for users now and well into the future, even as the global population of internet users grows. And make no mistake, the demand is growing... This ability to interoperate with many different kinds of networking equipment brings significant benefits including lower costs and easier equipment upgrades, leading to faster growth in bandwidth rates."

Marea is able to transmit data at up to 160 terabits of data per second, that makes it 16 MILLION times faster than the average home internet connection. That is enough bandwidth to support 71 million HD video streams simultaneously. Microsoft plans to use the cable to enhance more than just Skype; it will also use the new bandwidth to provide the infrastructure for future cloud offerings.

Microsoft announced along with the completion of the undersea cable that it is rolling out Azure Availability Zones, its newest infrastructure service. The service "increases Azure’s resiliency capabilities, broadens customer options for business continuity and enables customers to deliver highly available applications and cloud services around the world."

Facebook is also part of another undersea cable project between the US and China good for 120 Tbps; that project started last year.