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Google Teams With Asian Telecoms For "Faster" Undersea Cable

New submarine cable connecting U.S. and Japan will transmit up to 60 terabytes of data per second

2 min read
Submarine fiber optic cable being laid below the sea
Photo: NEC Corp

Google is looking to improve connections in the global Internet by adding some more bandwidth. A consortium made up of the tech giant and five of Asia’s largest telecommunications firms has announced a plan to construct a new fiber optic cable that will run along the floor of the Pacific Ocean from Japan to the United States, carrying up to 60 terabytes of data every second.

The new cable, known as Faster, owes its name to the aspirations of its builders—improved speed between the United States and Asia, a route along which more and more data is flowing. Cisco’s latest Virtual Networking Index predicts that by 2018, IP traffic in the Asia Pacific region will reach 47.3 exabytes per month, tripling the traffic the region saw in 2013. According to the VNI, that means that “In 2018, the gigabyte equivalent of all movies ever made will cross Asia Pacific's IP networks every 7 minutes.”

When Faster enters service, it will join nearly 300 similar cables which are now responsible for carrying an estimated 95 percent of all Internet traffic worldwide. The six-fiber-pair cable, which has an estimated price tag of $300 million, is expected to be operational by the year 2016. It will run from two locations in Japan—the cities of Chikura, in Chiba Prefecture, and Shima, in Mie Prefecture—to the west coast of the United States, where it is expected to run to major cities there like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle.

Image: NEC Corp
Route of the Faster cable

Though building new cables to handle increased online traffic is traditionally the realm of Internet service providers, the new cable is not Google’s first foray into the field. It also invested in the construction of the Unity cable, which began linking the United States and Japan along a route similar to the one Faster will service in 2010. In building Faster, Google teams with the firms KDDI, Global Transit, China Mobile International, China Telecome Global, and SingTel.

Japanese IT company NEC Corporation, which also built Unity, has been tapped to head construction on the project. “The FASTER cable system has the largest design capacity ever built on the Trans-Pacific route, which is one of the longest routes in the world,” said Woohyong Choi, chairman of Faster’s executive committee, in a press release. “The agreement announced today will benefit all users of the global Internet.”

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How the FCC Settles Radio-Spectrum Turf Wars

Remember the 5G-airport controversy? Here’s how such disputes play out

11 min read
This photo shows a man in the basket of a cherry picker working on an antenna as an airliner passes overhead.

The airline and cellular-phone industries have been at loggerheads over the possibility that 5G transmissions from antennas such as this one, located at Los Angeles International Airport, could interfere with the radar altimeters used in aircraft.

Patrick T. Fallon/AFP/Getty Images

You’ve no doubt seen the scary headlines: Will 5G Cause Planes to Crash? They appeared late last year, after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration warned that new 5G services from AT&T and Verizon might interfere with the radar altimeters that airplane pilots rely on to land safely. Not true, said AT&T and Verizon, with the backing of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, which had authorized 5G. The altimeters are safe, they maintained. Air travelers didn’t know what to believe.

Another recent FCC decision had also created a controversy about public safety: okaying Wi-Fi devices in a 6-gigahertz frequency band long used by point-to-point microwave systems to carry safety-critical data. The microwave operators predicted that the Wi-Fi devices would disrupt their systems; the Wi-Fi interests insisted they would not. (As an attorney, I represented a microwave-industry group in the ensuing legal dispute.)

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