Google will be joining forces with five East Asian companies to build a 9,000-km (6,000 mile) fiber-optic underwater cable that will span the Pacific Ocean, connecting the West Coast of the U.S. to two cities in Japan. The $300 million project aims to address the needs of rising Internet usage along the trans-Pacific route.
China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Japanese mobile carrier KDDI, Singapore's SingTel and Malaysia's Global Transit — some of the largest telecom firms in Asia — will also be investing in the project that is scheduled to begin service by 2016. The cable system, called FASTER, will be supplied by the Japanese vendor NEC and designed to deliver speeds of 60 terabytes per second — “about ten million times faster than your cable modem,” Urs Hölze, Google’s senior vice president of technical infrastructure, wrote on his Google+ page.
“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,” Woohyong Choi, the chairman of the consortium, said in a statement.
The system will connect to the cities of Shima and Chikura in Japan and will also extend to major cities and their environs on the U.S. West Coast, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland and Seattle, according to a statement released by NEC.
The project is not Google’s first investment in underwater cable systems; it also backed UNITY in 2008 and SJC (South-East Asia Japan Cable) in 2011. Google’s investments in network infrastructure in Asia reflects global trends that indicate the region now has the greatest number of Internet users in the world.