The new undersea link, which stretches 4,100 miles between Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Bilbao, Spain, can stream 71 million HD videos simultaneously. Known as Marea, it was laid as a joint venture between Microsoft, Facebook, and telco infrastructure firm Telxius, and will enter operation in 2018.
The cable, which in total weighs more than 10.25 million pounds and is apparently the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic, can shuttle a bewildering 160 terabits of data per second. Microsoft explains just what a feat of engineering is required to lay such a cable:
The project required charting a course with average depths of almost 11,000 feet and hazards ranging from active volcanoes and earthquake zones to coral reefs. The cable, which is about 1.5 times the diameter of a garden hose, contains eight pairs of fiber optic cables encircled by copper, a hard-plastic protective layer and a waterproof coating. Some portions closer to shore are buried to protect the cable from fishing and ship traffic, but for most of its route, the cable lays on the ocean floor.