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Google’s Grace Hopper Subsea Fibre Cable Lands in Cornwall UK

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021 (5:31 pm) - Score 4,080
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Internet giant Google has today announced that their new private subsea fibre optic cable – ‘Grace Hopper‘, which will run between the USA (New York), UK (Bude, Cornwall) and Spain (Bilbao), has landed in South West England. The new cable has enough capacity to carry data at speeds of c.340Tbps (Terabits per second).

Construction of the new cable, which is equipped with 16 fibre pairs (32 fibres) and incorporates a novel optical fibre switching technology (the world’s first submarine cable to use it), started last year (here) and is due to be completed in 2022. Google expected it to deliver increased reliability and performance in global communications, “enabling us to better move traffic around outages” (i.e. Google’s own internet services, such as Gmail and Cloud, will of course benefit the most).

The cable is named after computer science pioneer Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (1906–1992), best known for her work on one of the first linkers (compilers), which was critical in the development of the COBOL programming language. She’s also credited with famously finding an actual “bug” in a program; her team tracked down the source of a short circuit on the early Harvard Mark II computer to a moth trapped in a panel.

A contract to build the cable was signed early last year with Eatontown, N.J.-based subsea cable provider, SubCom. The good news is that a lot of progress has been made since then and the cable has today landed in Bude, Cornwall, which marks the completion of the USA to UK subsea section. The other section, linking to Bilbao in Spain, was landed earlier this month.

Grace-Hopper-Cable-System-Map

The project represents a new generation of trans-Atlantic cable coming to the U.K. shores and is one of the first new cables to connect the U.S. and the U.K. since 2003.

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18 Responses
  1. Sim says:

    Are you able to expand on what happens to the cable once its landed? Where will it connect into existing UK infrastructure? I am assuming that there isn’t already somewhere in Bude they can just plug it into which will deal with 340Tbs? Does this mean some land based contractors are having to dig from Bude to another point in the UK where the cable will terminate?

    1. Nicholas Ashfield says:

      Good question.

    2. M says:

      Hi.

      While they probably could lease space in the CWW landing station Google normally build their own – these are modular and normally about 3-4 modules (about the size of a 40ft container) will complete a landing station – plus 2-3 skid generators.

      Next they will ‘lease’ X pairs of fibre on a IRU basis (e.g number of fibres in the subsea cable on each of two diverse routes if available.). The other end of that Fibre will terminate in Google POPs, most likely one in Slough and one in.. another location.

    3. Alex Jones says:

      Feel free to search for it for confirmation, but Bude Cornwall has been long known to be a key GCHQ-NSA internet data monitoring station/portal into Europe.

      I am sure that is a coincidence, of course!

    4. TheBudeTunnel says:

      Bude is where a lot of the transatlantic cables to/from UK are, so i’d imagine they have a fair few POPs where they can link it. There was an interesting article on internet cables from bude, the title is “How a Cornish seaside resort keeps Digital Britain connected”

    5. Sim says:

      Thanks for the info.. I just did a planning search but the area of sea marked for this cable is near Summerleaze beach and not Widemouth as the other article suggests as the location for the other cables. Sadly the planning application has been removed from public viewing now so other than seeing where it relates to there is no further info available.

    6. M says:

      Oh well, in that case perhaps they are just using the Lumen landing station (EX23 8RR) which is plenty big enough and right at the end of the beach, would be the path of least resistance.

    7. R Walker says:

      You can take your pic from where it might go
      https://www.internetmaps.co.uk/category/cls/page/2/

    8. Buggerlugz says:

      And what sort of huge plug does it have??!! 😉

  2. Matt says:

    Is this going to affect speed of the internet from hear to the USA if not I’m not interested need to get thows latency times down for online and gaming if this dosent help in any way for the public what’s the point

    1. The Facts says:

      The world does not revolve round playing games.

    2. DaveG says:

      Its more likely this cable is going to connect together Googles servers in the US, UK & Europe.
      So the improvements in speed will be with Gmail, Search, Google Maps, Streetview etc etc

    3. ChrisD says:

      This will form part of Google’s plans for its Cloud Platform (GCP). It plans to allow interconnection between different compute regions over a private backbone. So I doubt it will benefit the internet at large, but allow it to offer more services to its GCP customers.

    4. ImaBigBoyonTheInternet says:

      and the world doesn’t particularly care you’re anti-gamer. Billion/Trillion dollar industry. If you want to pretend it doesn’t matter, go ahead. Video game industry paid for my house and car.

    5. Nat says:

      What we traditionally see on these cable systems is an IRU swap. For example Lumen providing landing station facilities and fibre from Bude to London, in return for pair(s) on the undersea cable. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see wavelengths available for purchase on this cable via other providers very soon.

    6. Ad says:

      Speed (Capacity) or Latency improvements? They are two different things.

      The new cable will provide a lot of extra capacity between the USA and UK, but it is unlikely to improve the latency by much.

      Two main things determine UK-US latency – distance and the speed of light. Due to continental drift the distance is actually increasing slightly each year and the speed of light in glass remains the same. London – New York has a round trip of around 58ms just for the fibre distancet, improved signal processing etc can reduce the latency on top of that due to the equipment but gains are small.

      Reduced latency to the US needs the light to travel faster, the technology being looked at for that is Hollow Core Fibre as the speed of light is higher in air. It is not quite ready for deployment as a transatlantic cable but that has the potential to drop that 58ms to around 40ms.

  3. chris conder says:

    Wonderful that a ‘new starter’ like google can run fibre over the atlantic but our well established incumbent can’t get it to homes in our cities even though it is in the exchanges and cabinets. Great news that a new cable is soon to be operational.

    1. mike says:

      I think there might be a slight difference between running a single cable along the ocean bed and running millions of cables to every home and business in a country.

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