Amazon, Facebook and SoftBank to build new submarine cable system

Amazon, Facebook and SoftBank have formed a consortium to build the new 14,000-km (8,700-mile) Jupiter transpacific submarine cable system connecting Asia with North America in a move that illustrates how social media and other nontraditional providers are building out their own networks to deal with growing traffic demands.

The Jupiter cable system will have two landing points in Japan: one at Shima in the Mie prefecture and at Maruyama in the Chiba prefecture. An additional landing point will be located at Daet in the Philippines and one near Los Angeles.

Other participants in the Jupiter cable are NTT, Hong Kong’s PCCW Global and PLDT from the Philippines. Meanwhile, TE SubCom will serve as the main system supplier.

RELATED: FCC: U.S. international submarine cables grew to 120K Gbps circuits

Upon completion in 2020, the system promises a capacity of 60 Tbps. However, the system capacity could be expanded “to meet rising data demands and complement existing cable systems,” according to a statement issued by NTT.

Jupiter Cable System
Jupiter Cable System

Jupiter will be a 400 Gbps WDM transmission system deploying the latest fiber and design technologies to become what the participants claim will be the fastest cable between Japan and the United States.

“The demand for bandwidth in the Pacific region continues to grow at a remarkable rate, and is accompanied by the rise of capacity-dependent applications like live video, augmented and virtual reality, and 4k/8k video,” said Koji Ishii of SoftBank, co-chairperson of Jupiter consortium, in a release. “Jupiter will provide the necessary diversity of connections and the highest capacity available to meet the needs of the evolving marketplace.”

TE SubCom, the main contractor for the project, has configured Jupiter as a trunk and branch system with submersible reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexing (ROADM) technology. The ROADM functionality is implemented with wavelength selective switch (WSS) technology providing ROADM nodes with gridless, flexible and in-service bandwidth reconfiguration capability on a per wavelength basis.

Additionally, the system will enable remote reconfiguration by robust optical command/response channels. The system is also being built to maintain necessary uptime with flexible bandwidth reallocation. ROADM nodes will also be equipped with a telemetry channel that allows access to undersea spectral performance information.

While Jupiter is the latest cable built by a mix of traditional and nontraditional service providers, it is not the first. In September, Microsoft and Facebook completed their joint 4,000-mile transatlantic internet cable. Earlier this year, Google announced it was backing Indigo, a new undersea cable between Asia and Australia.

In other related developments, Google and Facebook last year partnered on a new subsea cable project between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, and a new Google-backed transpacific internet cable from Japan to Oregon was recently lit.

This latest route also reflects the overall growth of submarine cable capacity. According to a recent FCC report, submarine cable capacity grew 35% per year from 2007 to 2015 and, based on data submitted for the report, it is projected to grow 17% per year from year-end 2015 to year-end 2017.