Google Plans Undersea Cables to Ramp Up its Cloud Business

Google has revealed plans to build three underwater fiber-optic cables for ocean areas from the Pacific to the North Sea, in order to speed the transfer of data and catch up with Amazon and Microsoft. The new undersea cables are slated for completion by 2019 and will also allow Google to reroute data to servers around the globe to avoid an overloaded or failed region. Although the cables will cost a significant amount — “hundreds of millions of dollars” — Google believes the move is its only option to compete in cloud computing.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Google’s parent company Alphabet already owns a “massive network of fiber-optic cables and data centers,” which Google vice president of the cloud platform Ben Treynor reports is “the world’s biggest private network, handling roughly 25 percent of the world’s Internet traffic.”

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Since the company is now looking to “new frontiers like Australia and South America,” adding new cables — which will bring its total to 11 — was the best option, and that having its own network “helps Google control its data-intensive software without relying on telecom companies.”

Despite its massive private network, “Google is third in cloud-computing revenue behind Amazon and Microsoft,” an arena worth “billions of dollars of annual revenue.” The new cables “will help link five new regions for cloud customers in Montreal, the Netherlands, Los Angeles, Finland and Hong Kong.”

Google has partnered with domestic telephone operators and Facebook to build cables, although “it is breaking precedent with its longest, fully private long-distance cable, which will stretch 6,200 miles from Los Angeles to Chile, where the company finished a data center in 2015.” “This is, I believe, the largest single pipe into Chile,” said Treynor about the Curie cable, named after French scientist Marie Curie.

Google will also “share capacity with Facebook on a planned 4,500-mile cable,” named Havfrue (Danish for mermaid) from the U.S. East Coast, stopping in Ireland, and on to Denmark. A 2,400-mile cable, HK-G, will run from Hong Kong to Guam, and “hook up with other cable systems linking Australia, East Asia and North America.”

In mid-2017, PayPal went with Google for its “consistently fast connections,” says technology chief Sri Shivananda. PayPal-acquired companies Braintree and Venmo “still run partly on Amazon.”