Facebook and Google co-invest in Pacific Light Cable Network

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Facebook and Google have joined a project to build a 12,800km transpacific submarine cable system that will provide the first direct undersea route between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, California, with ultra-high capacity transmission.

The Pacific Light Cable Network was initiated by Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) and submarine cable construction firm TE Subcom, which signed a memorandum of understanding in November 2015 to jointly build and operate the cable.

Scheduled for commercial launch in summer of 2018, PLCN will have an estimated cable capacity of 120Tb/s, making it the highest-capacity transpacific route to date, the companies claim.

The cable is based on TE SubCom’s C+L technology, which lights up additional wavelengths in the L-band, effectively doubling the available bandwidth per fibre pair compared to a traditional C-band-only system.

The involvement of Google and Facebook highlights the trend towards hyperscale data centre operators building their own optical network infrastructure to ensure they have access to the capacity they need.

On the Google Cloud Platform Blog, Brian Quigley, director, Google Networking Infrastructure, noted that this is the sixth submarine cable in which Google has an ownership stake — the others being the Unity, SJC, FASTER, MONET and Tannat projects.

“It is certainly gratifying that global technology companies like Google and Facebook have become co-investors in PLCN. It is a strong signal that PLCN will be trusted to address the capacity needs for internet and international communications services throughout the Pacific Rim,” said Mr. Wei Junkang, chairman of PLDC.

PLDC, a privately owned company incorporated in November 2015, is a newcomer to the submarine cable network scene, but appears to have ambitions beyond the Pacific. “We envision this deployment as the initial step in PLDC’s construction of a global network,” the company’s chairman added.

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