Silicon Valley’s battle to seize control of the world’s subsea Internet cables

Linda J. Dodson

Not content with simply controlling the software and social networks we use to stay connected, Silicon Valley is ploughing billions of dollars into dominance of something else: the raw wires and cables which form the basic physical plumbing of the global Internet.

At stake is the very future of the web itself – and an opportunity to cut out the telecoms giants which have traditionally served as intermediaries between Silicon Valley and the end users of its products.

Google is not the only player in the subsea cable game. With cables responsible for transmitting 98pc of the world’s internet traffic at the speed of light across the sea floor, the likes of Facebook, Microsoft and others are making a play too.

Google’s latest cable, which is expected to be completed by 2022 with support from SubCom, a New Jersey-based telecoms business, is just the latest in a roster of existing cables managed by the tech giant.

One Google cable, named after Nobel-prize winning physicist Marie Curie, connects Los Angeles to Valparaiso in Chile. Another, called Dunant, connects the US with France in what is one of the busiest routes for web traffic globally. It will be completed this year. 

According to Stowell, projects like Grace Hopper are really about helping Google’s customers like Lloyds Banking Group, HSBC, Just Eat and even the UK government, prepare “for the future”.

“This is Google’s first private cable to the UK which means we will own 100pc of it and it can be designed and built to our very high standards,” Stowell says.

Facebook, meanwhile, has turned its eyes to Africa. With an internet revolution sweeping across the continent predicted to generate $51bn (£38.9bn) in revenue for telecoms operators by 2025, according to a 2019 report from industry body GSMA, the opportunity to wire up the continent could be a lucrative one.

2Africa, the social media giant’s cable officially announced in May, will almost match the Earth’s entire circumference at 23,000 miles, and is expected to be ready for use by 2024 with support from Vodafone, Orange, Telecom Egypt and MTN Group, a South African telecoms firm.

Facebook has also worked closely with Microsoft on a cable connecting Virginia beach on America’s east coast to Bilbao with the capacity to carry 160 terabits of data per second – the same amount of data involved in streaming 71m high definition videos simultaneously.

Figures from industry analyst TeleGeography indicate that there were approximately 406 undersea cables as of early 2020. 

Source Article

Next Post

Smart speakers are teaching our children to be rude and sexist

“I’d blush if I could.” Until recently, that’s the ridiculous way Apple’s digital voice assistant Siri would respond to being called a “b****”.  After coming under pressure, Tim Cook’s team finally changed the reply to “I don’t know how to respond to that.” But by then, the damage had been […]

You May Like