Google and five other companies are building FASTER, a new trans-Pacific cable system that will connect major U.S. west coast cities with two coastal locations in Japan with initial speeds of up to 60 terabits per second.
This is not Google's first investment in undersea cables. The rationale for FASTER is the same as it was in the past. It is all about the future of the Internet and laying the foundations for an infrastructure that will track the network’s growth.
The consortium includes China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI and Singtel. NEC will act as system supplier.
The cable will extend to U.S. west coast hubs, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. Google owns a facility in the Dalles, Oregon, which underwent a $600 million expansion last year.
Google’s vice president of technical infrastructure Urs Hölzle said the company is making the investment to make its products faster and more reliable.
The company previously invested in UNITY in 2008 and SJC (South-East Asia Japan Cable) in 2011. UNITY also linked the U.S. to Japan with comparatively smaller 3.3 Tb/s connection. SJC is a $400 million Southeast Asia-Japan cable that became operational last June. It can handle 28 Tb/s.
Undersea cables are massive and tough, built to withstand their environment. While very resilient, they occasionally need to undergo repairs via submarine operators at depths of over a mile.
The major Japan earthquake in 2011 damaged multiple undersea cables. The damage had a modest impact, with network operators routing around the problem. The new cable will add some additional resiliency in addition to enhanced performance.
Google continues to see rapid growth in demand in Asia Pacific. The company began scouting data center locations in the region in 2007. In 2012, it built its first company-owned data center in Hong Kong, followed by data centers in Singapore and Taiwan.