Google has continued its cloud infrastructure quest with its first private trans-Atlantic subsea cable connecting Virginia Beach in the US to the French Atlantic coast.
The cable, named Durant, is expected to become available in late 2020, adding network capacity across the Atlantic, supplementing one of the busiest routes on the internet. This will be the 13th cable Google has invested in, though it is the first Atlantic asset which will be privately owned in its entirety.
“Today, we’re announcing our newest private subsea cable project: Dunant,” said Jayne Stowell, Strategic Negotiator at Google. “This cable crosses the Atlantic Ocean from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to the French Atlantic coast, and will expand our network–already the world’s largest–to help us better serve our users and customers. The Dunant cable is expected to become available in late 2020.”
The cable itself has been named after Henri Dunant, the first Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of the Red Cross, and unveils another little quirk of the Google business. The Durant cable follows Curie, a cable connecting Chile to Los Angeles, which was announced in January, with Google confirming the trend will continue. Like the Android updates which follow the alphabet (funny that) and are named after sweets, the cable investments will also be named alphabetically, but after famous scientists.
There are a few to pick from when it comes to E. ‘America’s greatest inventor’ Thomas Edison could be an option, as could astronomer Arthur Eddington or Greek scientist Eratosthenes, the first person to produce a reliable, logical method to discover prime numbers. With AI as 2018’s buzzword, 1963 Nobel Prize winning neurophysiologist John Eccles could also be a good outside bet, but the safe money would have to go on Albert Einstein.
Northern Virginia has been a region receiving some attention in recent months, as aside from the cables landing on its beaches, Google has also been focusing some data centre investments in the region as well. In the escalating cloud battle, Google has some catching up to do, though AWS is largely believed to dominate this region of the states. Whether Google has the financial clout to compete against the market leader remains to be seen, but the search giant has not been scared to sign cheques in recent months.
Durant in the Atlantic and Curie in the Pacific are two serious investments being made by Google. Competitors are also involved in consortiums to build and maintain other cables around the world, though few head down the route of privately funding their own. Here, Google will have more control over capacity and the route of the cable, perhaps giving it a bit of an edge over competitors such as Microsoft and AWS who will have to compromise with partners when crossing the Atlantic.
The major cloud players are not short of cash to invest, though whether Google veering towards private investment in subsea cables kicks off a new trend remains to be seen.