Microsoft and Facebook to build subsea cable across Atlantic

This post was authored by Frank Rey, Director, Global Network Acquisition, Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations.

Today we’re excited to announce the latest step in our global cloud infrastructure as Microsoft and Facebook announce plans to build “MAREA” – a new, state-of-the art subsea cable across the Atlantic. The new MAREA cable will help meet the growing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for cloud and online services for Microsoft, Facebook and their customers. The parties have cleared conditions to go “Contract-In-Force” with their plans, and construction of the cable will commence in August 2016 with completion expected in October 2017.


We’re seeing an ever-increasing customer demand for high speed, reliable connections for Microsoft cloud services, including Bing, Office 365, Skype, Xbox Live, and Microsoft Azure. As the world continues to move towards a future based on cloud computing, Microsoft is committed to building out the unprecedented level of global infrastructure required to support ever faster and even more resilient connections to our cloud services. This robust, global infrastructure will enable customers to more quickly and reliably store, manage, transmit and access their data in the Microsoft Cloud.

“In order to better serve our customers and provide the type of reliable and low-latency connectivity they deserve, we are continuing to invest in new and innovative ways to continuously upgrade both the Microsoft Cloud and the global Internet infrastructure,” said Frank Rey, director, global network acquisition, Microsoft Corp. “This marks an important new step in building the next generation infrastructure of the Internet.”

MAREA will be the highest-capacity subsea cable to ever cross the Atlantic – featuring eight fiber pairs and an initial estimated design capacity of 160Tbps. The new 6,600 km submarine cable system, to be operated and managed by Telxius, will also be the first to connect the United States to southern Europe: from Virginia Beach, Virginia to Bilbao, Spain and then beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. This route is south of existing transatlantic cable systems that primarily land in the New York/New Jersey region. Being physically separate from these other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for our customers in the United States, Europe, and beyond.

Microsoft and Facebook designed MAREA to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment. This new “open” design brings significant benefits for customers: lower costs and easier equipment upgrades which leads to faster growth in bandwidth rates since the system can evolve at the pace of optical technology innovation. This is critical to ensure the Microsoft Cloud continuously improves to provide the highest availability and performance our customers need for their mission-critical workloads and data.

Microsoft and Facebook are working with Telxius, Telefónica’s telecommunications infrastructure company, building upon their longstanding experience in subsea cables on this innovative new system. Telxius will serve as the operator of the system and sell capacity as part of their wholesale infrastructure business.

As one of the largest cloud operators in the world, Microsoft has invested more than $15 billion (USD) in building a resilient cloud infrastructure and cloud services that are highly available and highly secure while lowering overall costs. Microsoft has now announced 32 Azure regions around the world with 24 generally available today – more than any other major cloud provider. This latest investment, together with Microsoft’s previously announced investments in global fiber assets including the NCP trans-Pacific subsea cable, is further proof of Microsoft's commitment to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Comments (0)

  1. dennis woods says:

    Question: how are they mapping the seabed and servicing the cable?

    1. @Dennis- We did a complete marine survey of the entire route, including shoreline surveys, where the entire seabed was mapped to find the most optimal route to lay the cable in optimal locations. The mapping helps us avoid extreme ridges and inclines as well as areas prone to underwater mudslides.

  2. en marea says:

    Is Marea name related to En Marea, electoral coalition in Spain?

    Although En Marea is related to Galicia, not Basque country. Pretty near.

    1. MAREA was chosen as the Spanish word meaning tide, a reference to the subsea effort and the route to Bilbao, Spain, and because we feel MAREA will kick off a new wave in the way subsea cables are built.

  3. Flávio says:

    And why not in azores or portugal is moore short..

    1. @Flávio- The MAREA cable will connect to datacenter hubs Spain which include connectivity to Microsoft, Facebook and a variety of other companies.

  4. Is the company that is managing the service, Telixus, hiring? I will be transitioning out of the military soon and already have experience with undersea cables and networking.

    1. @Jason- Please contact Telefonica for information on their employment needs:

  5. Alvaro says:

    Bilbao = Spain, I’m afraid you are wrong, and the future give me the reason… your are now on time to change… if not, in the future you will remember this!! is better Asturias, or Galicia, or France…

  6. Jane says:

    There’s definately a lot to find out about this subject.

    I really like all the points you have made.


    MAREA was produced by ….??? (whom?)

    1. @Helcio- Microsoft and Facebook announced an agreement to build a new, state-of-the-art subsea cable across the Atlantic to be called “MAREA”.

  8. Michele Vander Linden says:

    I’m confident that both Microsoft and Facebook ran an assessment on the impact on marine wildlife.
    Would it be possible to get a copy of these studies? Tkx,

    1. @Michele- As a company, we take our environmental impact seriously and work to comply with applicable environmental regulations. We have conducted initial environmental impact studies and continue to work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the protection of ocean and coastal resources.

  9. Chris says:

    The article is incorrect in stating the 1st cable system linking Southern Europe to the US.
    Portugal, Italy and Spain will be connected via the PCCS cable system to the US whilst MAREA is still being designed.

    Go to a page like for a map of the current/proposed cable lays.

    1. @Chris- You can see the current locations for the Pacific Caribbean Cable System (PCCS) which runs from North to South America and currently does not connect to Europe at Telegraphy:

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