The tech giants recently announced they were going to build an undersea highway from the east coast of the United States to Spain in order to speed up their online services. Fast broadband connection is especially important to Facebook, which is going to encourage its users to broadcast live video and meet in virtual reality. These plans will require vast amounts of bandwidth.
In this case, the tech firms assume roles of the public utilities or the government. Indeed, until now telecom incumbents have laid undersea cables. At the same time, Google continues to expand Fiber, its high-speed Internet program. Amazon continues to build its own postal service. Uber continues to replace regulated cab companies. Finally, Facebook continues to expand wireless Internet coverage in Africa.
There are over a dozen undersea cables between the continents. This cable will be laid from northern Virginia, a major junction point in the worldwide web, to Bilbao in Spain, and then onward to the rest of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. According to Facebook and Microsoft, it will be highest-capacity undersea cable across the Atlantic, managed by an infrastructure-focused subsidiary of Telefonica, the Spanish telecom provider. The provider will sell access to the cable to other firms, but Facebook and Microsoft will get premier access to quick data transfers. Industry experts admit that this cable will allow them to create their own private highway between the US and Europe. The companies plan to finish construction by October 2017.
The plans of the tech firms to build their own cable reflect their vision for the amount of bandwidth they will need in the future. Facebook’s executives recently showed how they envision two users on different continents meeting up virtually through elaborate systems of headsets, cameras and other monitors. Of course, such experience will require superfast connection at the very least. Besides, the industry experts point out that Facebook’s ability to fund its own cable is likely to help the company maintain its market dominance. While other emerging virtual reality companies have to purchase space on someone else’s undersea cables, Facebook will have its own private highway.