Submarine Cables And The Importance Of Spain

Submarine cables have positioned themselves as key elements of global interconnection and have Spain as one of the most privileged enclaves.

Submarine cables have positioned themselves as key elements of global interconnection and have Spain as one of the most privileged enclaves.By Izan González
April 26, 2021

Spain, a traditional point of departure from Europe to South America for 5 centuries, has also found a privileged niche on the map of current digital connections . Those that change the ships loaded with correspondence by data highways arranged in very fine submarine fiber optic cables .

98% of all international Internet traffic currently circulates through submarine cables, according to Google data. Forming an immense global network that crosses seas and oceans thanks to which we can telecommute, enjoy the latest movies from platforms such as Netflix or play video games with people from the other side of the world.

The same geographic position that drove trade with South America centuries ago has become  one of the attractions of technology companies  that provide all these essential services. A safe bet of connectivity using submarine cables. These “information highways” join an increasingly important data center infrastructure in Spain. Although very far from being a  hub for larger-scale connections as is currently the case with the airline sector.

Until not long ago, most submarine cable projects bypassed the peninsula and opted to link the New Jersey shore, where many technology companies have their data centers, with Ireland. “The next step was to leave Ireland aside and go directly to England, because every time the submarine cable touches land, the delay increases,” Juan Vaamonde, Data4 country manager for Spain, told OMICRONO. Once outside the UK, the next stop was usually in Amsterdam. “But these lines are collapsing . 

The importance of Spain

And this is where the role that the Iberian Peninsula is playing becomes essential. “Currently, projects are being proposed [some already firm] in alternative mooring points.” Those that move away from the density of traditional markets such as those previously indicated and are looking for others such as Spain itself .

” The geographical position of Spain is privileged . To the north we see England, to the southwest we have all the exit to South America and we can also connect with Africa from the south.” One of the latest projects that takes advantage of this situation is that of the Ellalink cable, which Vaamonde has told us will link the peninsula with Brazil via the Canary Islands. It is expected to start operating in a month and will allow to reduce the delay with South America by around 50%, yielding a latency of less than 60 milliseconds.

The Iberian Peninsula is also critical for connecting Europe with North Africa , mainly along the west coast of the continent. “Or the Orval cable, which connects Valencia with Oran (Algeria)” and opens Spain to the west towards Palermo, another classic node that looks – via the Suez Canal – towards Asia. “From here we have practically a 360-degree view,” says Vaamonde.

“A crossroads of this type of cables” that also gives rise to projects such as the one that Facebook wants to develop with 2Africa. The architecture is quite complex and includes the deployment of a 37,000 kilometer cable that leaves the United Kingdom, surrounds the entire African continent with branches to some countries and returns to Europe through a mooring in Barcelona .

And within Spain, Bilbao has become one of the leading cities in the sector . The Biscayns have become a mooring point for two of the main submarine cables that connect this region of Europe with the United States.

The Marea connects the city of Virginia Beach, a city on the American Atlantic coast, with Bilbao. The deployment was completed in September 2017 and had to wait until 2018 to begin transporting information to both sides of the ocean. It has a length of 6,600 kilometers and was financed by Facebook and Microsoft, although it was deployed by a subsidiary of Telefónica.

The second of the cables arriving in Bilbao is the Grace Hooper , deployed by Google. This cable departs from the town of Shirley and, a few miles west of French Brittany, splits into a branch to Bude (United Kingdom) and another to Bilbao . It is expected to be completed in 2022.

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