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Facebook and Google partner on underwater fiber optic cable from the U.S. to Asia

underwater fiber optic

underwater fiber opticFacebook and Google are planning to run underwater fiber optic cable all the way from Hong Kong to Los Angeles California. This 8,000+ mile long track of cable will connect North America to Asia with the sole purpose of bringing better internet speeds.

The underwater fiber optic cable project will begin construction at some point this year and is expected to be completed and in operation by 2018.

It’s predicted that the capacity will be 120 terabits per second, that’s over 15,300 gigabytes a second, extremely impressive compared to what’s currently available on the North American market.

“These underwater cables will help increase the total bandwidth available not just to the giants that build them, but for pretty much everyone else as well. And they improve the resilience of the global internet by increasing the number of routes that data can travel across the oceans. But more to the point, they also give Facebook and Google more control over the infrastructure they depend on,” Klint Finley from Wired.com reports.

Many in Eastern Canada will know that trans-Atlantic connections do not belong solely to this century, nor to the last for that matter.

In the tiny town of Hearts Content on the eastern end of Newfoundland they will soon be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first ever subsea cable. This is where the first ever transatlantic cable began and it ended in Valentia Island, Ireland over 1900 miles away.

With the introduction of Industrial Revolution-era cable the communication time between Europe and North America was altered drastically. Instead of messages taking upwards of a week to reach landfall in Europe, one could now be telegraphed across in nearly no time at all.

Originally the telegraphs exchanged between the two points were a visual Morse code. The system used lighting instead of the much more famous dots, dashes, and spaces we see in moves. Visual Morse code required three people to convey the contents of a message and also a dark room to be able to see the light. Despite the strenuous methods of relaying messages, it was loved by the people everywhere as they could know in a near instant what was happening across the Atlantic Ocean, something we now take for granted.

“These people were the first texters,” says Tara Bishop, an employee at the Heart’s Content Cable Museum. “It’s like us turning on a news network and watching the ticker tape running across the bottom of the screen of news headlines or stock markets. That’s what these people provided to the world.”

But despite the popularity, the system was still very expensive, costing around 1 British Pound per word sent. But people quickly caught on and began shortening and combining words, a trend that continues even up until this day.

“They were shortening words and combining words to make it more feasible to send their messages.” adds Bishop.

Although this cable system has been disconnected since the 1960’s researchers are looking at using old subsea communication cables to help track temperatures and other information that could lead to a better understanding of climate change. But for now that dream is just slightly out of reach.

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  1. No it is 120 terabits (bits not bytes) of bandwidth speed that translates to 15,300 GB (bytes) of data. The important thing to remember is 8 bits = 1 byte.

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