Google finds dropping cable off a boat is easier and faster than digging up streets

by Steve Blum • , ,

Google might be defaulting, excuse me, pivoting to wireless broadband technology in last mile broadband markets, but it appears to be moving full speed ahead with laying underseas fiber to connect continents. And Facebook is sailing right alongside.

Google, Facebook, TE Connectivity – the former Tyco Electronics – and Pacific Light Data Communication, a Hong Kong-based start up, are partnering to build a submarine cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with a completion target of summer 2018. According to a Google blog post

The Pacific Light Cable Network will have 12,800 km of fiber and an estimated cable capacity of 120 Tbps, making it the highest-capacity trans-Pacific route, a record currently held by another Google-backed cable system, FASTER. In other words, PLCN will provide enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80 million concurrent HD video conference calls with Los Angeles.

FASTER – a collaboration between Google and a consortium of Asian telecoms companies – went online this summer, linking Oregon to Japan. Google is getting 10 terabits per second of capacity – one-sixth of the total – on that cable. And it has ownership stakes in four other submarine cable projects.

Facebook has also wet its feet in the trans-oceanic fiber game, joining Microsoft and Telefonica as investors in a planned route between Virginia and Spain. That’s scheduled to come online next year.

It’s not a business venture as such for either Google or Facebook. Instead, it’s the kind of classic make versus buy choice that’s leading both companies down the path toward greater vertical integration.