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MAREA Overview Schematic

Microsoft and Facebook to Lay 160Tbps Transatlantic Cable


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In an effort to meet the growing demand for high speed, reliable connections for Cloud and online services locally and abroad, Microsoft and Facebook jointly announced their latest step in building a global cloud infrastructure with the laying of “MAREA” – a new, state-of-the art subsea cable across the Atlantic.  MAREA, Spanish for “tide” will stretch from Virginia, US, to Bilbao, Spain, shuttling digital data at a rate of 160 terabits (Tbps) per second across 6,600 kilometers (4,101 miles) of ocean. Specifically, the cable will travel from northern Virginia in the US, a major junction point in the global internet, to Bilbao in Spain, and then onward to the rest of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The companies said it will be highest-capacity undersea cable yet across the Atlantic, which is significant, given that there are already more than a dozen undersea cables between America and Europe. MAREA is also the third public investment in a trans-Atlantic cable by Microsoft.

This planned route is south of existing transatlantic cable systems that primarily land in the New York/New Jersey region. Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for the parties customers in the United States, Europe, and beyond.

Both companies have cleared conditions to go “Contract-In-Force” with their plans, and construction of the cable will commence in August 2016 with completion expected in October 2017.

Microsoft and Facebook are working with Telxius to lay and manage the cable, Telefónica’s telecommunications infrastructure company. Telxius will serve as the operator of the system and sell capacity as part of their wholesale infrastructure business. Facebook and Microsoft are ensuring they will get priority access to the bandwidth – in effect, guaranteeing the two companies will have their own private data highway.

MAREA Overview Schematic

MAREA Overview Schematic

The project reinforces the trend where technology companies are assuming disruptive roles traditionally left to public utilities, multi-national conglomerates, the government, or in this case, undersea cables being traditionally laid by telecommunications giants. Think ride sharing companies like Uber, Lyft, BlaBlaCar, Carma, etc. to displace regulated cab companies; Amazon with its growing private delivery service and recent investment in the Hawaiki cable from Oregon and Hawaii to Australia and New Zealand; Facebook and its initiative to bring wireless internet to Africa (it has also invested heavily in “dark fiber”—unused terrestrial cables—so that it can control how its data moves from place to place more efficiently); Airbnb.com, Tripping.com, etc. to displace traditional rental and vacation agencies; and even Google, which has invested in two undersea cables that stretch from the West Coast of the United States to Japan, another that connects the US and Brazil, and a network of cables that connect various parts of Asia.

According to Frank Rey, director, global network acquisition, Microsoft Corp, he sees an ever-increasing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for Microsoft cloud computing services, including Bing, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live, and Microsoft Azure. As such, he adds that Microsoft is committed to building out the unprecedented level of global infrastructure required to support ever faster and even more resilient connections to our cloud services. This robust, global infrastructure will enable the company’s customers to more quickly and reliably store, manage, transmit and access their data in the Microsoft Cloud. He added, “In order to better serve our customers and provide the type of reliable and low-latency connectivity they deserve, we are continuing to invest in new and innovative ways to continuously upgrade both the Microsoft Cloud and the global Internet infrastructure. This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the Internet.”

Microsoft and Facebook have designed MAREA to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment. Continued Rey, “This new open design brings significant benefits for customers: lower costs and easier equipment upgrades which leads to faster growth in bandwidth rates since the system can evolve at the pace of optical technology innovation. This is critical to ensure the Microsoft Cloud continuously improves to provide the highest availability and performance our customers need for their mission-critical workloads and data.”


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Curtis Chan

Curtis Chan

Curtis Chan is President and CEO/Founder and Managing Partner of two high technology Brand Marketing and Public Relations companies, CHAN & ASSOCIATES and COGNITIVE IMPACT, whose clients range from the Global Fortune 500 to venture capital funded startups.

His agencies’ services, for over a quarter century, have helped garner early stage and growth companies significant brand exposure, resulting in either acquisition or IPO, with a total valuation of over $2.0 Billion.

Mr. Chan is a serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, author and angel investor. He played key executive roles early on in helping to pioneer and usher in both professional digital audio and digital video technologies for the recording, broadcast, cinematic and post production industries. He also played key executive roles in helping to develop and market data storage technologies. His expansive background spans four decades in ever increasing executive roles in operations, business development, engineering and sales/marketing in the information technology, media & entertainment, storage and networking, and other related high technology industries.

He is an active mentor and senior advisor to many established and start-up companies, a market/technology analyst, and has three decades of experience in brand development, management consulting, company turnarounds, creative advertising and public relations.

A graduate of California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly), San Luis Obispo; Mr. Chan is celebrating his 12th year as a Board of Director for the Fullerton College Foundation and recipient of the 2017 President’s Award for Outstanding Service in Business; 17th year as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence and mentor for the Small Business Institute at California State University Fullerton and incubators. Additionally, he is a volunteer member of DECA (Delta Epsilon Chi and Distributive Education Clubs of America); an advisor to the College of Engineering's Global Waste Research Institute and Center For Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and a member of the President’s Green and Gold Society. Passionate about hospice care, he was the past Board President for the Healing Hearts Association; and is a regularly featured speaker at many MBA and Doctorate level lectures around the country. He has presented and published over 30 papers worldwide, is a book co-author, an Editorial Board Member for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers, Senior Editor for Broadcast Beat and AV Beat Magazines, past Senior Editor for Computer Technology Review, and is a regularly featured Contributing Editor to many US and international trade publications for over 30 years.

View Cognitive Impact services at www.cognitiveimpact.com. Curtis can be reached at [email protected]; Office: (714) 447-4993 or [email protected]eat.com.
Curtis Chan