Google announces the Firmina subsea cable between the US and Argentina

·2 min read

Google today announced its plans to build a new subsea cable that will connect the East Coast of the U.S. and Las Toninas, Argentina -- with additional landings in Brazil and Uruguay. The idea here is to provide users in South America with improved low-latency access to Google's portfolio of consumer and cloud services. The cable will be designed and installed by SubCom and should be ready for service by the end of 2023.

The closest Google data center in the region (and its only one in South America) can be found near Santiago, Chile, which is connected to the U.S. West Coast through Google's Curie cable.

The Firmina cable, named after Brazilian abolitionist and author Maria Firmina dos Reis, will augment Google's existing cable investments in the region. The Tannat cable, a joint venture between Antel Uruguay and Google, for example, already connects the same locations, while the Monet cable connects the U.S. and Brazil, where Google's Junior cable already connects various parts of the country.

Image Credits: Google

The new cable doesn't just add capacity but also resilience to Google's existing network. Specifically, one technical feat that makes this new cable, which consists of 12 fiber pairs, stand out is the system's ability to power the cable from a single-end power source.

"With submarine cables, data travels as pulses of light inside the cable’s optical fibers," Google explains. "That light signal is amplified every 100 km with a high-voltage electrical current supplied at landing stations in each country. While shorter cable systems can enjoy the higher availability of power feeding from a single end, recent longer cables with large fiber pair count have made this harder and harder." To achieve this, the Firmina cable is supplied by a cable with a voltage that is 20% higher than previous cables.

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