Google-backed cable delivers blazing bandwidth under the Pacific

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Cable Landing at Minami-boso city, Chiba, Japan(Credit: NEC)

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A new trans-Pacific submarine cable built by NEC with the backing of a consortium of telecom companies and Google came online Thursday. The FASTER cable connects the West Coast of the US with Japan via a six-fiber pair cable bringing 60 Terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth under the Pacific.

The 9,000 km (5,592 mi) cable makes land in Oregon and two locations in Japan, at Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo and further south at Mie prefecture.

According to Urs Hölzle, senior vice president for technical infrastructure at Google, the cable's capacity is "more than any active subsea cable, and 10 million times faster than your cable modem."

He explains that a repeater is integrated into the first-of-its-kind cable about every 60 km to re-energize 100 different colors of light transmitted over various frequencies. Sending multiple colors/frequencies over the same fiber is a technology known as dense wavelength division multiplexing and helps boost bandwidth.

The project was first announced in August 2014 by the consortium and its members — China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, Google, KDDI and Singtel. The group says the FASTER cable should provide a bandwidth boost for the internet's backbone throughout west coast and Asian hubs.

"The completion of the FASTER cable system will provide capacity to support the expected four-fold increase in broadband traffic demand between Asia and North America," said Ooi Seng Keat, vice president of carrier services for Singtel.

The completion of the trans-Pacific cable comes just weeks after Microsoft and Facebook announced plans to team up on the construction of a new trans-Atlantic cable between Virginia and Spain that is set to be completed in late 2017.

Scroll down to see a map of the FASTER cable's route.

Sources: Singtel, NEC, Google+, Reddit

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