Telecommunications traffic between the U.S., Asia, Europe,
and the Middle East is growing by leaps and bounds. According to TeleGeography,
trans-Pacific bandwidth demand grew by 63.7% annually from 2002 to 2007.
Accommodating the increased demand for bandwidth requires
more physical connections between the U.S. and countries across the Pacific
Ocean. Google is by many estimates one of the largest consumers of
bandwidth with not only its massively popular search engine, but its video
services from YouTube.
Traditionally, Google bought bandwidth form large providers.
InformationWeek reports that Google announced it will buy into a new undersea cable with
five other companies including Bharti Airtel, Global Transit, KDDI Corporation,
Pacnet, and SingTel. The other companies include some of the biggest
telecommunications companies serving overseas markets.
Google insists that it is not trying to become a player in
the telecom industry. This statement is in contradictory to some of the things
Google has done recently, like bidding in the FCC spectrum auction. Google network
acquisitions manager Francois Sterin said in a blog post, “If you're wondering
whether we're going into the undersea cable business, the answer is no. We're
not competing with telecom providers, but the volume of data we need to move
around the world has grown to the point where in some cases we've exceeded the
ability traditional players can offer. Our partnership with these companies is
just another step in ensuring that we're delivering the best possible
experience to people around the world”
The 10,000km Unity submarine cable will cost the partners
$300 million to install. Construction of the cable is expected to be complete
in 2010 and according to Google the cable will increase trans-Pacific bandwidth
available by 20%.
The Unity cable isn’t the only trans-Pacific cable being
constructed. Three other submarine cables are being constructed including the
Trans-Pacific Express Cable System, Asia-America Gateway Cable System, and a
new cable by Reliance FLAG.
The increased bandwidth and redundancy is certainly needed
in light of the five undersea cables that were cut in January and February. The
cause of several of the cuts is still unknown and sabotage hasn’t been ruled out.