The online population across Asia could be enjoying slightly faster access to some internet services today with the news that Google has switched on a new high-speed undersea cable system, bringing speedier connectivity to Google services in the region.
To recap, back in 2014, a six-member consortium of companies consisting of Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, and Singtel unveiled plans to create a 9,000km transpacific undersea cable system spanning from Oregon on the west coast of the U.S. to Japan. And a few months back, we reported that the cable — which is designed to deliver 60 terabits-per-second (Tbps) of bandwidth across the Pacific — was open for service after being almost two years in the works. Now, this FASTER cable system has been extended from Japan to Taiwan, which just happens to be the home of Google’s largest data center in Asia.
“With more people coming online every day in Asia than anywhere else in the world, we’ve been working hard to invest in the infrastructure needed to make the Internet work for all of us who live in the region,” said Google’s Yan Tang, network resource APAC regional lead, in a blog post. “That’s why we’ve built two data centers in the region and have already expanded our facility in Singapore. It’s also why we’re investing in these undersea cables — to make everyone’s computing just a bit faster and to bring people around the world just a bit closer together.”
The upshot of this is that Google services such as Gmail and YouTube should, in theory, work just a little bit faster today for millions of people across the continent. This cable is not quite as quick as the FASTER cable extending from the U.S. to Japan, though, as the extension only promises “up to” 26 Tbps. But in a region prone to earthquakes and tsunamis, Google says it has taken precautionary measures by situating the cable outside of such zones to reduce the chances of network downtime during natural disasters.
Technology companies that rely on their customers being connected are increasingly getting involved in the infrastructure that enables key regions to get online. Indeed, earlier this year Microsoft, Facebook, and Telefonica subsidiary Telxius announced plans to build a submarine cable across the Atlantic Ocean, while Facebook is also investing in satellite technology to beam internet access to large parts of Africa.
Google has been active on this front, too — it previously backed the transpacific system, called Unity, that was completed in 2010, as well as the pan-Asia SJC system that went live in 2013. Closer to home, Google has also been working on its own superfast Fiber broadband service, which has been rolling out gradually across the U.S. And Google also recently became a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) with the launch of Project Fi, which opened to anyone in the U.S. back in March.