Google’s $300M undersea Internet cable between US and Japan is now live

Back in 2014, Google teamed up with five telecom and communications firms to install an undersea cable network between the United States and Japan to help deal with increasing Internet traffic between North America and Asia.

And now, that cable is live.

Called “Faster,” the $300 million project involved laying a cable across 5,000 miles of ocean, between the West Coast of the U.S. and Japan. This will then link up with neighboring cable systems already in place to improve the network beyond Japan to other locations throughout Asia. On the U.S. side, the cable will connect to networks in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle. System supplier NEC said the project was being undertaken “in order to address the intense traffic demands for broadband, mobile, applications, content and enterprise data exchange on the trans-Pacific route.”

A couple years ago, Google’s Urs Hölzle said the undersea cable was vital to help keeps its products fast and reliable, “whether it’s for the more than a billion Android users or developers building products on Google Cloud Platform.” The cable actually launched pretty close to on schedule, as the project was slated to go into operation in spring of 2016. The six-fiber pair cable also lived up to its data capacity promise of 60 terabits per second – that’s about 10 million times faster than your cable modem.

Google has said that this dedicated cable will allow for “faster data transfers and reduced latency as GCP customers deliver their applications and information to customers around the globe,” which will come particularly in handy for future operations (like the launch of its Google Cloud Platform East Asia region in Tokyo).

The Faster network also connects Japan and Taiwan, though the main focus is between the U.S. and Japan.

Besides Google, the project also involves investment from a number of Asia-based firms, including China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, and SingTel.

Chairman of the Faster executive committee, Woohyong Choi, said the new cables would “form an important infrastructure that helps run global Internet and communications,” adding that the new technology will benefit “all users of the global Internet.”

Google has invested in such undersea cable projects before, in 2008 laying one to Japan, and in 2011 helping to build one between Japan and a number of Southeast Asian nations. With its business built around the web, Google is, of course, more than happy to put money into such ventures. It’s also working to improve broadband speeds in U.S. cities, and has various projects on the go to bring Internet access to remote areas around the world.


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