Google Announces US to Argentina Firmina Cable

Image Courtesy of Google

By Bikash Koley
June 9, 2021

Today, we’re announcing Firmina, an open subsea cable being built by Google that will run from the East Coast of the United States to Las Toninas, Argentina, with additional landings in Praia Grande, Brazil, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. Firmina will be the longest cable in the world capable of running entirely from a single power source at one end of the cable if its other power source(s) become temporarily unavailable—a resilience boost at a time when reliable connectivity is more important than ever.

As people and businesses have come to depend on digital services for many aspects of their lives, Firmina will improve access to Google services for users in South America. With 12 fiber pairs, the cable will carry traffic quickly and securely between North and South America, giving users fast, low-latency access to Google products such as Search, Gmail and YouTube, as well as Google Cloud services.

Single-end power source capability is important for reliability, a key priority for Google’s network. With submarine cables, data travels as pulses of light inside the cable’s optical fibers. That light signal is amplified every 100 km with a high-voltage electrical current supplied at landing stations in each country. While shorter cable systems can enjoy the higher availability of power feeding from a single end, longer cables with large fiber-pair counts make this harder to do. Firmina breaks this barrier—connecting North to South America, the cable will be the longest ever to feature single-end power feeding capability. Achieving this record-breaking, highly-resilient design is accomplished by supplying the cable with a voltage 20% higher than with previous systems.

Celebrating the world’s visionaries

We sought to honor a luminary who worked to advance human understanding and social justice. The cable is named after Maria Firmina dos Reis (1825 – 1917), a Brazilian abolitionist and author whose 1859 novel, Úrsula, depicted life for Afro-Brazilians under slavery. A mixed-race woman and intellectual, Firmina is considered Brazil’s first novelist. With this cable, we’re thrilled to draw attention to her pioneering work and spirit. You can learn more about Firmina in this Google Doodle.

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