Google's Fiber-Optic Diplomacy

Issue 46

11.23.20 - Google is laying the groundwork for a sweeping fiber-optic network that for the first time will connect through historical enemies Saudi Arabia and Israel while opening a new corridor for global internet traffic.

The project linking India to Europe is Google’s latest globe-crossing internet construction effort. Google is currently vying with Facebook to build more network capacity to support its surging user demand for videos, search results, and other products. The expanded connectivity between Europe and India would also help Google roll out data centers globally and catch up to rivals Microsoft and Amazon in the business of on-demand cloud computing.

Google, which names most of its internet cables after scientists, has dubbed the new route Blue Raman after Indian physicist Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman. A submarine cable project the length of Blue Raman—at more than 5,000 miles—would cost typically up to $400 million, according to Dubai-based telecommunications firm Salience Consulting.

Google is expected to turn to telecom-company partners to help fund the project, including Oman Telecommunications and Telecom Italia, which are partnering to help finance the route. Those partners and others will help fund the cable’s construction while sharing its fiber-optic infrastructure.

There still remains the possibility that the project may not come to fruition, as the project spans across multiple borders. The project is still pending approval from multiple regulators and setbacks could force Google to redesign the route. Google has yet to secure permission from the Saudi government.

The tech giant wants to open a new route to alleviate internet traffic strain through Egypt. The Egyptian government charges telecom operators some of the heaviest fees to traverse its land and waters that can add up to 50% of the cost of a route from Europe to India, according to industry consultants. The traffic bottleneck also increases the risk of internet outages caused by breaks in the cables under the Red Sea’s busy shipping lanes.

The route is likely to be made up of a submarine cable between India and Saudi Arabia with links to neighboring countries like Oman. It would then cross overland through Jordan and Israel, likely via current fiber-optic infrastructure. Google is the primary partner helping lay another undersea cable that will travel across the Mediterranean to Europe.

Source: Yahoo Finance