AWS Will Be Google and Facebook’s Neighbor on the New US-Europe Submarine Cable

Bulk Infrastructure says the cloud giant will use its portion of the Havfrue cable’s capacity.

Yevgeniy Sverdlik

March 27, 2019

2 Min Read
A submarine cable being laid in Sicily
A submarine cable being laid in Sicily

Last year, Google, Facebook, Aqua Comms, and Bulk Infrastructure all agreed to pitch in on a new submarine cable to link North America, Ireland, and Scandinavia. (The only cable system connecting US and Scandinavia today is the nearly 20-year-old TAT-14, according to Telegeography.) Now, Amazon Web Services is getting in on the action.

Bulk Infrastructure, a data center and dark fiber developer in the Nordics, said this week that AWS will use its portion of the future cable’s capacity. Expected to come online by the end of this year, the Havfrue cable (havfrue is Danish for “mermaid”) will be able to push 108 terabytes of data per second across the Atlantic, according to TE SubCom, the company building the system.

As they expand computing capacity in the data centers that run their global hyperscale platforms, the tech giants have become primary consumers of transcontinental connectivity and a driving force behind much of its recent expansion. In some cases, no longer content with simply renting capacity on submarine cables from telecom consortia that have traditionally rulled the space, they have become involved directly, by helping funding new cable systems.

Google and Facebook officially joined the Havfrue consortium early last year; Facebook and Microsoft were two of the three backers of the Marea cable, which lands in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Bilbao, Spain; AWS invested in the Hawaiki cable, which lands in Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand; there have been other examples.

Havfrue will land in Wall, New Jersey; Lecanvey, Ireland; Blaabjerg, Denmark; and Kristiansand, Norway, according to Telegeography. AWS will use the US, Ireland, and Norway termination points, according to Bulk, which exclusively owns the future system’s Norwegian branch.

As the Havfrue’s Norwegian gatekeeper, Bulk will provide access to the cable from its data centers in Vennesla (just outside of Kristiansand) and in the Western Denmark town of Esbjerg.

AWS launched its first availability region in the Nordics (in Stockholm) in December. Its other European data centers are in Dublin, Frankfurt, London, and Paris. On the other side of the Atlantic, most of its traffic arriving via Havfrue in New Jersey is likely to flow to Northern Virginia, home to the biggest AWS data center cluster.

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