“Internet infrastructure is not in the cloud, it’s under the sea,” said Bikash Koley, vice president of global networking at Google. “Firmina is the 16th submarine cable that Google has built or invested in.” The Internet is still growing steadily year after year. I expect the train to continue, “he said.
Adding capacity is important to accommodate consumer services like search, Gmail and YouTube, and business infrastructure like Google Cloud. About 98% of international data travels on submarine cables draped over the bottom of the oceans, Google said, and Google Meet video conferencing increased by a factor of 25 when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
As it does with itsGoogle pays tribute to remarkable numbers with names of submarine cables. This cable is named after Maria Firmina dos Reis, a mixed race writer who wrote about the lives of Afro-Brazilian slaves in his 1859 novel Úrsula. Google also highlighted its 194th birthday with a Google doodle in 2019.
Google names its own submarine cables in alphabetical order – for the most part. Its most recently announced submarine cable is named Grace Hopper after the groundbreaking computer scientist and discoverer of an actual fault in an early computer. “The sequence was a bit out,” Koley said of the naming order. Former Google cables are called Curie, Dunant and Equiano.
Google did not share the cable’s expected data capacity, but it will carry data on 12 pairs of fiber optic lines over thousands of miles. By comparison, the 16-pair Grace Hopper cable has a capacity of 250 terabits per second with 16 fiber pairs connecting the United States with the United Kingdom and Spain.
It’s about 250,000 times faster than even fast gigabits per second. Second broadband using fiber optic lines. Subsea cables can squeeze in more data by using more fiber optic lines and with more expensive terminals that utilize more light frequencies and other signal processing tricks to push on more data, Koley said.
Google hired SubCom to design and install the cable. It will manufacture the cable this year at its facility in Newington, New Hampshire and install the cable during the summer of 2022, SubCom said in a statement.
Submarine cables must increase signal strength about every 100 kilometers (62 miles), and power lines assembled in the cable provide power. An unusual aspect of the Firmina is that it can be operated from both ends of the cable, which increases reliability compared to more common designs that rely on power from both ends all the time, Koley said.
This method, which SubCom calls single-end feed power, requires an 18 kilovolt power supply – approx. 20% higher than conventional designs. SubCom expects Firmina to be the longest cable using the technology.
Google has not yet chosen the location for the US cable terminal. Its southern destinations are Las Toninas in Argentina, Praia Grande in Brazil and Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Google participates in partnerships with other cable operators and exchanges capacity on similar routes to strengthen the overall grid of communication links.