How Google is going to bury a 4,000 mile data cable between the US and the UK
Google is preparing to lay 4,000 miles of new fiber optic cable between the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain, as part of a project that will take two years.
The new cable – dubbed Grace Hopper after the pioneer computer scientist – will significantly increase Google’s data capacity between the United States and Europe. The cable, made up of 16 pairs of fibers, will provide up to 350 terabytes per second of capacity, the equivalent of 17.5 million people simultaneously streaming 4K video.
The cable will run from New York on the east coast of the United States to Cornwall in the United Kingdom. It will be branched off when it reaches Europe, with part of the cable extending to Bilbao in Spain.
The project will be delivered to the US submarine cable supplier, SubCom, which uses dedicated vessels and submarine robots to lay the cable.
The cable is coiled from the back of a ship to a marine plow which is dragged along the seabed, creating a ravine in which the cable will land. The marine plow is lifted off the seabed when its path crosses another cable, to avoid damaging the other cable, the new cable simply being laid over the old one.
Likewise, if the seabed is lifted in some parts of the course, the sea plow is lifted and the cable is simply laid on top of the surface, to prevent damage to the underwater environment.
Once the plow has done its job, a secondary robot is deployed that inspects the cable and buries it in the seabed, minimizing the risk of costly cable breaks. The whole process can be seen in the embedded SubCom video below.
A Google spokesperson declined to reveal how much the new cable will cost. The project is expected to be completed in 2022.