100,000 million tweets per second or 4,000 conventional DVDs per second. In everyday terms, this is what the MAREA submarine cable which is being deployed by Telxius, Telefónica’s infrastructure subsidiary, together with Facebook and Microsoft, is capable of transmitting. In other words: 160 terabits per second. 6,607 kilometres of fibre optic cable have begun to be placed in Sopelana (Basque Country, Spain) and will reach Virginia Beach (USA) in a few weeks.
MAREA is the submarine cable with the highest capacity of all the submarine cables currently crossing the ocean. At the end of autumn, the installation is expected to be completed. It will connect the United States with a fibre optic channel already existing in Europe, connecting principal hubs like Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam or London. MAREA aims to enrich and complete existing transatlantic connections through a more southerly route using open and innovative technology to ensure that connections are safer and more robust.
Rafael Arranz, COO at Telxius, stated that MAREA “is a historical milestone and the culmination of years of research and hard work. In just a couple days, we’ll do something it took us two years to program.”
With this cable, Telxius hopes to address the increasing demand for traffic that the telecommunications sector has experienced over the last few years. The Telefónica Group’s infrastructure subsidiary will sell the capacity of this cable wholesale, so that operators can offer their end customers more and better connectivity.
Telefónica is aware of the importance of investing in infrastructures to improve everyone’s lives. Access to employment opportunities, training, healthcare, agriculture, financial services, entertainment or communication are possible thanks to improved connectivity and Internet services. As a result, Telefónica has invested €45,000 million, or €25 million a day, over the past years.
How do you tie up a submarine cable?
What happened a week ago in Sopelana was a rare site that attracted much curiosity. It isn’t every day that you see a submarine cable being tied up on the beach. The first step is to dig a trench down the beach and prepare the so-called “beach manhole” to connect the cable when it arrives.
Then, the cable-laying ship positions itself about a kilometre from the shore, while a smaller craft takes the cable and tows it from the ship to the location marked on the beach. The cable does not immediately sink; rather, it is connected to a series of buoys so it can be more easily moved over the surface. When it reaches the beach, workers place it in the channel and place arched metal protections over it.
Once the cable is in place and connected to the beach manhole, the ditch is covered and the beach is restored. From the coast to about two kilometres offshore, the cable is buried to protect it from ships or animals that might damage it. From there on, it is simply placed on the seabed.
Workers tying up MAREA at Sopelana beach.
Telxius’ global fibre optic network has over 65,000 kilometres
MAREA will be part of all the infrastructures that manages globally Telxius to bring connectivity to all its customers and open a world of infinite opportunities.Telxius’ global fibre optic network consists of more than 65,000 km (of which 31,000 km is proprietary submarine fibre optic cable) connecting the USA, the Americas and Europe.
Telxius is also building BRUSA, a new submarine cable nearly 11,000 km in length linking Rio de Janeiro and Fortaleza (Brazil) with San Juan (Puerto Rico) and Virginia Beach (USA). The cable is expected to begin operations in early 2018 reinforcing Telefónica’s infrastructure leadership in the Americas.
In its ambition to reinforce its global infrastructures, Telxius has also deployed the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS), a consortium submarine cable with a transmission capacity of up to 80 Tbps, which links Jacksonville (Florida, USA) with the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Aruba, Curacao, Colombia, Panama and Ecuador. In addition, it also manages the Unisur cable connecting Uruguay and Argentina and the SAM-1, a submarine cable system deployed in 2000, which forms a 25,000 km ring linking the USA, the Caribbean and Central and South America.