It’s easy to forget, amid thousands of different wireless signals and networks, that there is a significant physical infrastructure that ties the internet together. Specifically, a surprisingly small group of undersea cables.
Today, Microsoft and Facebook announced that they would begin laying another cable, running from Virginia to Spain, later this year. The cable, “featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps [terabytes per second],” is meant to boost both companies’ cloud capabilities. The cable will be known as MAREA.
As TechCrunch notes, the pair’s approach is a bit different:
Typically, companies like Microsoft and Facebook have joined larger consortiums of technology companies and telecom players to build — or invest in — these cables. Now, however, the two decided to build their own infrastructure instead (and they are using some of the open hardware approach that Facebook has become known for) and plan on selling excess capacity to third parties.
It’s an unusual move for Microsoft and Facebook, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that other companies are about to start laying their own independent cables.