Google Takes Transatlantic Cable for Solo Swim

The Dunant cable, a private cable exclusive to Google, will go live in late 2020 connecting Virginia Beach in the US to the French Atlantic coast.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

July 17, 2018

3 Min Read
Google Takes Transatlantic Cable for Solo Swim

Eventually living with roommates stops working for you. That time has come for Google. We're not talking about an apartment here, of course; instead, we're talking about a transatlantic cable connecting Virginia Beach in the US to the French Atlantic coast. Google's Dunant cable is planned to go live in late 2020, Google said in a blog post announcing the cable Tuesday.

The cable will add network capacity across the Atlantic, supplementing one of the busiest routes on the Internet and supporting the growth of Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Cloud. Google is working with TE SubCom to design, manufacture and lay the cable, "which will bring well-provisioned, high-bandwidth, low-latency, highly secure cloud connections between the US and Europe," Google said in the blog post.

Figure 1: Image by Google. Image by Google.

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Like the previous Curie cable, Google is naming this cable after an influential innovator, Henri Dunant, the first Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Red Cross, Google says. Like Curie and Dunant, future Google private cables will also follow an alphabetic theme.

Dunant will be Google's 13th cable investment, starting with UNITY in 2010, connecting the US and Japan. The company kicked off 2018 by launching three submarine cables.

Curie and Dunant are both private cables, with Curie connecting Chile and Los Angeles.

Havfrue is a consortium cable connecting the US to Denmark and Ireland, while the Hong Kong-Guam Cable System (HK-G) is a consortium cable interconnecting major subsea communications hubs in Asia. Google followed up in April by investing in the Japan-Guam-Australia Cable System, connecting Australia with Southeast Asia. (See Google Launches 3 Submarine Cables and Google Spins Subsea Cable Web to Australia & Southeast Asia.)

Figure 2: Image by Google. Image by Google.

Why did Google decide to go solo with Dunant? A service provider looking for transcontinental data connection can simply buy capacity from an existing cable, or one being built by someone else; or create a consortium of partners with similar needs to build a cable together; or go solo, Google says. The company has done all of these, but believes this time around it needs the performance, latency, capacity and bandwidth guarantees for the 15–25-year life of the cable that a solo endeavor provides.

"You're pretty much certain to always have network availability and capacity for peaks," Jayne Stowell, senior strategic negotiator for the Gooogle global submarine team, tells Light Reading. "You're not bandwidth pinched and starved. It's a high quality, high reliability network."

In this case, Google is seeing international traffic demand driven by increased demand for Google Cloud Platform, as well as more complex, multimedia traffic such as artificial intelligence and YouTube, and increased demand for Google services driven by mobile use, Stowell says.

"When I joined Google ten or 11 years ago, YouTube was hardly a blink; now it is a major user of capacity," Stowell says.

Google's philosophy is to have triple-redundant bandwidth capacity over transoceanic routes, over at least three separate paths, to ensure that even losing two cables doesn't interrupt service, Stowell says.

Figure 3: Even they eventually got tired of having roommates. Even they eventually got tired of having roommates.

— Mitch Wagner Follow me on Twitter Visit my LinkedIn profile Visit my blog Follow me on FacebookExecutive Editor, Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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