Google’s second fully privately-owned subsea cable is now open for business. The announcement comes shortly after the internet giant recorded record quarterly revenues, with soaring cloud sales playing a major part.
The internet giant first revealed plans for its Dunant cable back in 2018, one of more than a dozen similar projects that Google has backed over the past decade as it doubles down on infrastructure investments to power its cloud computing services, such as storage, analytics, machine learning, video-streaming, email, and various enterprise offerings.
Dunant spans 6,400km (3,977 miles) from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez, France, and follows almost two years after Google launched its first self-funded subsea cable. Curie went into operation back in April 2019, stretching 10,000km from Los Angeles down the Pacific coast to Chile.
Google first announced Dunant in 2018, revealing at the time that it expected to finish the project in late 2020, so it has missed its target by only a few months.
Google’s growing infrastructure investments fits into a much wider trend, with most of the big technology companies investing in subsea cables, satellites, among other moonshot projects. Indeed, Google’s sister company Loon had been setting out to deliver internet to hard-to-reach places through a network of high-flying solar-powered balloons, but Alphabet killed that project just a few weeks ago.
Dunant is actually reminiscent of another subsea cable that was funded by Microsoft and Facebook — the 4,000-mile transatlantic Marea internet cable went into operation back in 2017, and runs from Virginia Beach to Bilbao on Spain’s northern coast.
While satellites and similar technologies will play an increasingly big part in beaming internet to the farthest reaches of the Earth, physical cables splayed across ocean floors offer much more capacity and lower latency which will be key for Google as it plays catchup with Microsoft and Amazon in the cloud race. Underwater cables today carry an estimated 98% of all internet traffic, and Dunant — which promises speeds of 250 terabits per second (Tbps) — will play a big part in Google’s appeal to prospective cloud customers.
Elsewhere, Google’s third privately-owned subsea cable, Equiano, is expected to open later this year, connecting Portugal to South Africa. And Grace Hopper, which will connect the U.S., U.K., and Spain, is planned for 2022. In total, Google has invested in 15 subsea cables, four of which are funded entirely by itself.
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