Google may be planning an undersea Pacific cable, reports the NY Times. And it is getting ready to hire ships that will lay a data communications cable across the Pacific, according to a report from Communications Day, an Australian trade news service.
The project, called Unity, hopes to have a cable in service by 2009. Google would own a dedicated portion of the multi-terabit cable, giving it a significant cost advantage for trans-Pacific data transmission over rival Internet companies.
The Unity name was first revealed in public in early September when Level 3 executive Mike Saunders listed it as one of several new cables planned across the Pacific in a Singapore conference presentation. Saunders’ presentation warned of the potential for the new cables to create a new trans-Pacific capacity bubble, although he did not link Unity to Google.
According to DSLPrime, Asia Pacific will go from 104M broadband connections this year, with North America from 59M to 99M.
Barry Schnitt, a Google spokesman, didn’t confirm the plan, but did tell the publication the company is interested in the area, saying “Additional infrastructure for the Internet is good for users and there are a number of proposals to add a Pacific submarine cable. We’re not commenting on any of these plans.”
Dave Burstein, the editor of DSLPrime, who tipped me off to the CommDay report, explained even though there is a lot of unused fiber capacity across the Pacific, there are few players, and prices are seen as unusually high. He adds that there is a glut of cable laying ships, so the cost of building a new link to Asia has come down.
This new move puts Google in competition again with Verizon, which has fought Google’s approach to the new wireless spectrum auction in the United States. Verizon is part of a group of Asian Carriers that is building a $500 million cable between the United States and China.
Sergey and Larry explain the Google machine (above).
The $500 million Trans-Pacific Express project, is the newest transpacific cable. Trans-Pacific Express is being built by Verizon business and Chinese investors. The cable will link several Asian and Pacific locations with the United States and will be more than 11,000 miles long when competed next year.
It will jump off from the United States in Nedonna Beach, Ore., and extend more than 18,000 kilometers (11,000-miles) to China. Construction is now underway, with completion slated for the third quarter of 2008. It will provide capacity of up to 1.28 terabits per second (Tbps), but will have design capacity of up to 5.12 Tbps.
Existing cable networks between the United States and China and other Asian nations are reaching capacity, making the planned new network a necessity, Verizon said last year
Indian telecom company Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. acquired for $130 million the Tyco Global Network from Tyco in 2005. The Tyco Global Network-Pacific (TGN-P) cable, owned by VSNL, was recently upgraded from a lit capacity of 640 Gbit/s to 1 Tbit/s, but it has a total capacity of 7 Tbit/s.
Other U.S.-Asia Transpacific cable includes:
- Pacific Crossing-1 (map): The PC-1 Cable system is comprised of four segments, two of which traverse the Pacific Ocean each containing four fiber pairs. The system currently has lit 180 Gbps with design capacity for 640 Gbps. It runs from Japan to Harbor Pointe, Washington.
- Japan-U.S. Cable Network (map): The 640 gigabits/se (4,096 STM-1s), uses 10 GigE technology. The Japan-U.S. cable has its northern landing point at Manchester, Calif., and its southern landing at Morrow Bay, Calif.
- China-U.S. Cable Network (map): The $1.4 billion China-U.S transpacific fiber represents half of China’s international Internet capacity. The China-U.S. cable has its northern landing point at Bandon, Ore. and its southern landing point at San Luis Obispo, Calif.
- Southern Cross Cable Network (map): Southern Cross has a total protected network capacity to 480 Gbps, connecting through Hawaii and terminating in the U.S. at Hillsboro, Oregon. They interconnect with the Pacific Lambda Rail in Seattle for connections to Internet2’s Abilene, with National Lambda Rail and CANARIE’s CANet4 (both of which use switched optical lightpaths).
- C2Ccn (map): A fully redundant and diversified network with a design capacity of 7.68 Tbps (equivalent to 90 million simultaneous conversations). It’s apparently the new name for the Tyco Transpacific Cable (below), that connects China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan, with onward connectivity with the United States in Hillsboro.
- Tyco Transpacific (map): Indian national operator Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL) bought the Tyco Global Network, one of the world’s highest-capacity international submarine cable systems, for $130M in 2004. The ring system has capacity of 5.12 Tb/s, with segment 1 going from Japan to Nedonna Beach, Oregon. VSNL is the third biggest global player in the international voice market with interests in submarine cable systems FLAG, SEA-ME-WE-2 and SEA-ME-WE-3.
- TPC 5 (map): Links Japan, Guam, Hawaii and mainland USA (in Bandon, Oregon) with Tyco Transpacific.
- Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (map): India’s Reliance Group of companies bought FLAG in 2004. FLAG was the first oceanic cable to circle the earth.
The CIA describes America’s First Encrypted Cable. The Pacific Telecommunications Council, with an annual conference held in January, and SubOptic, held each May, are major industry events. Wikipedia has a list of international submarine communications cables, the International Cable Protection Committee and the Oregon Fisherman’s Cable Committee have additional information.