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Google's Game for Another Subsea Project

Dan O'Shea

Google is involved in another submarine cable project -- at least its third in the last six years -- as it continues to make fiber networks a bigger part of its business.

The web giant is one of the partners in the FASTER subsea consortium, which just tapped NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) to build out a $300 million Trans-Pacific cable. The other partners in FASTER -- China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), China Telecom Global, KDDI Corp. , Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY) and Global Transit -- are telecom heavyweights in their own right, but the standout here is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), as the company continues its assault, by land and by sea, on the fiber network sector. (See FASTER Subsea Partners Tap NEC for New Cable.)

Google also invested in the Trans-Pacific Unity Cable and the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable (SJC) in recent years, and often has been mentioned as a potential candidate to acquire submarine cable operations, though the latter has yet to happen. Google's involvement in the FASTER project had been rumored in recent months and was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. (See TE SubCom Upgrades SJC Cable and Google's Building Unity Underseas.)

In addition to its increasing subsea interests, Google of course also ignited the gigabit broadband craze with its Google Fiber Inc. initiative, and has invested in dark fiber. Through the combination of these efforts, Google reportedly retains ownership in more than 100,000 fiber route miles around the world. Fellow web titan Facebook also has invested in at least one submarine cable and, like Google, has been viewed as a potential acquirer or investor in others (See Eurobites: Google Fiber Eyes UK, Facebook Invests in Subsea Cable and Could Tata Be Facebook's Next M&A Target?.)

Meanwhile, NEC's naming as the FASTER project contractor should not come as much of a surprise, considering that NEC also was involved in building out the Unity and SJC projects, and in addition to Google, those projects have several investors in common with the FASTER cable project. (See NEC Wins SJC Undersea Cable Deal and Unity Cable Ready for Service.)

— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
8/14/2014 | 12:04:02 AM
Re: How many fiber miles Google has?
@Daniel: > Every time that someone experiences a slowdown of either of these > companies' services it is a problem° working in a company that provides Long Haul, Last Mile both wired and wireless in multiple countries; I can tell that sub sea fiber problems are very rare. Mostly its the last mile and access networks that are the issue.
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/13/2014 | 11:56:12 PM
Re: Telco
@Clark: Putting my wild hat on, I see Google launching GTalk texts, calls and video calls, not just on Gmail as it currently does, but on its entire Android Base. That will make Google the biggest global carrier rival to Vodafone, DT, Telenor etc. The number of Android users surpass Gmail users and that is the key to a new business.
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/13/2014 | 8:15:15 AM
Is Google a carrier?
The fact that Google is carrying on with its project of making fiber networks a part of its business is very encouraging. The only thing that I do not really understand is when we should stop considering Google as an OTT player so that we can now consider it as a carrier. I also do not understand whether the 100000 fiber miles owned by Google are inclusive of all their metro and LH dark fiber or not. I also tend to think that the 100000 fiber miles are exclusive of Google itself.
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/12/2014 | 2:32:18 PM
Re: another subsea
After going through this article, I've concluded that goggles massive investment in subsea projects is a good venture. it is just trying to invest in projects that it considers worth while. They might have a common objective but Google and Facebook are two very independent and different organizations both working on their different lines of work.
User Rank: Light Beer
8/12/2014 | 12:46:16 PM
Google goes FASTER
No great surprise really , google own a fp on Unity so they ahve to have something simialr to back it up and FASTER is the only system that allows them that option. Its an old adage that what do you need when you get your first fibre optic cable, answer another one.

But its sensible strategy for them since why would they want to buy from a carrier when they have bigger requirements.

However this deal highlights the disparity between US and Asian carriers. Lots os Asian partners for the system just Google at the US end and they are not a carrier-or are they?

They do not sell capcity but they do trade it and their investment behaviour can impact the capcity market in countries they operate in as this case illustrates.


food for thought
R Clark
R Clark,
User Rank: Blogger
8/11/2014 | 10:03:23 PM
Re: Telco
I guess Google's not a carrier because apart from its Kansas experiment it doesn't sell capacity to others. 
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/11/2014 | 8:22:15 PM
Re: How many fiber miles Google has?
Both Google and Facebook rely on these cables to ensure a quality product. That may seem obvious, but I would argue it is not readily apparent.

Every time that someone experiences a slowdown of either of these companies' services it is a problem.

Being able to have better control of fiber is key - Google and Facebook don't talk about it much, but that's the truth. 
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
8/11/2014 | 5:14:57 PM
When do we stop considering Google an OTT player and just consider it a carrier?
User Rank: Light Beer
8/11/2014 | 4:01:49 PM
How many fiber miles Google has?

You mentioned in your article that Google reportedly has over 100,000 fiber miles.  Is that inclusive of all their metro and LH dark fiber?  I assume that does not include Google Fiber itself (i.e. GPON miles), right?   Do you have a source for this data point?




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