“The Internet infrastructure is not in the cloud, but under the ocean,” said Bikash Koli, vice president of the global network at Google. Firmina is the 16th submarine cable that Google has built or invested in. “The Internet is still growing steadily throughout the year. I expect this train to continue,” he said.
Adding capacity is important for hosting consumer services such as search, Gmail and YouTube, and business infrastructure such as Google Cloud. About 98% of international data travel with submarine cables wrapped across the bottom of oceans and seas, Google said, and Google Meet video conferencing increased 25-fold when the coronavirus pandemic struck.
As with their own, Google pays tribute to remarkable figures with their names of submarine cables. This cable is named after Maria Firmina dos Reis, a mixed-race author who wrote about the lives of Afro-Brazilian slaves in her 1859 novel Ursula. Google also highlighted its 194th birthday with a Google doodle in 2019.
Google names its own submarine cables in alphabetical order – mostly. His recently announced submarine cable is called Grace Hopper, after pioneering the computer scientist and discoverer of a real bug in an early computer. “The sequence was a little off,” Collie told the naming order. Google’s earlier cables were called Curie, Dunant and Equiano.
Google did not share the expected data capacity of the cable, but will carry data for 12 pairs of optical lines per thousand miles. By comparison, the 16-pair Grace Hopper has a capacity of 250 terabytes per second with 16 pairs of fibers connecting the United States to Britain and Spain.
That’s about 250,000 times faster than even a fast gigabit broadband connection using optical lines. Submarine cables can accumulate more data by using more optical lines and more expensive terminals that take advantage of more light frequencies and other signal processing tricks to retrieve more data, Collie said.
Google hired SubCom to design and install the cable. It will produce the cable this year at its facility in Newington, New Hampshire and will install the cable in the summer of 2022, a statement from SubCom said.
Submarine cables should increase the signal strength to about 100 kilometers (62 miles), and the power lines included in the cable power the power supply. An unusual aspect of the Firmina is that it can be powered from both ends of the cable, increasing reliability compared to more common designs that rely constantly on power from both ends, Collie said.
This approach, which SubCom calls single-power power, requires 18-volt power – about 20% higher than conventional designs. SubCom expects Firmina to be the longest cable to use the technology.
Google has not yet chosen the site for the US cable terminal. Its southern destinations are Las Toninas in Argentina, Praia Grande in Brazil and Punta del Este in Uruguay.
Google participates in partnerships with other cable operators, exchanging capacity on similar routes to strengthen the overall grid of communication links.