Google Cloud announces Grace Hopper subsea cable

IT giant connects up first new undersea cable of its kind since 2003 to connect UK, US and Spain

Google has launched one of the first transatlantic undersea cable connections in 17 years with the Grace Hopper digital pipeline, aiming to provide better resilience for the network that underpins its consumer and enterprise products.

Google said that currently, 98% of international internet traffic is ferried around the world by subsea cable and Grace Hopper will join its other private subsea cables, Curie, Dunant and Equiano, to connect far-flung continents via the ocean floor.

The company said private subsea cables allow it to plan effectively for the future capacity needs of its customers and users around the world, and add a layer of security beyond what is available over the public internet.

The cable is named after computer science pioneer Grace Brewster Murray Hopper, who was best known for her work on one of the first linkers (compilers), which was critical in the development of the Cobol programming language. She is also credited, famously, with literally finding a bug in a program running on the early Harvard Mark II computer – a moth trapped in a panel.

Google said it is continuing that legacy of innovation by investing in the future of transatlantic communications with a state-of-the-art fibre-optic cable, which will run between the UK, the US and Spain.

Earlier this year, it signed a contract with US subsea cable provider SubCom to build the cable, and the project is expected to be completed in 2022. Once commissioned, the Grace Hopper cable will be one of the first new cables to connect the UK and the US since 2003, increasing capacity on the busy global crossroads and powering Google services such as Meet, Gmail and Google Cloud.

This is also the first investment by Google in a subsea cable route to Spain, and the landing point will integrate more tightly the upcoming Google Cloud region in Madrid into its global infrastructure.

The Grace Hopper cable will have 16 fibre pairs, 32 fibres, and will incorporate novel optical fibre switching that allows for increased reliability in global communications, enabling Google to move traffic around outages better.

Google and SubCom engineers have collaborated on incorporating “innovative” switching architecture into the system. Google says Grace Hopper is the world’s first submarine cable to use this technology, and it looks forward to deploying such technology on other systems in the future.  

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