In September 2017, Microsoft and Facebook completed a joint project to lay the MAREA undersea cable. It was and indeed still is the highest capacity undersea cable and has regularly broken records for speeds. However, it now seems MAREA is capable of data transfer speeds 20 percent faster than was thought possible.
On paper, MAREA delivers reliable and super-fast connections for cloud and online services, giving its customers rapid data speeds. It is capable of data speeds of 160 terabits per second of bandwidth, which in perspective is around 16 million times faster than the average home connection.
Or so it was believed. A recent experiment using 16QAM modulation resulted in record data transfer speeds of 26.2 Terabits per second. This was a 20 percent improvement compared to the 20Tbps the cable had previously achieved.
MAREA runs across the seabed of the Atlantic Ocean, stretching 6,600 kilometers (4,000 miles) from Virginia to Bilbao. Infinera says the importance of this record-breaking speed is the new testing approach means capacity upgrades could be made without spending vast sums of money.
Secondly, the significance of the speed running across such a long distance means these speeds may one day be regularly achievable. However, it may be some time before these speeds become common.
It is worth noting the average data transfer speeds of MAREA are currently at 9.5 Tbps.
Still, the cable can stream the equivalent of 71 million high-definition videos simultaneously and is 16 million times faster than the average home connection. Because the cable lands in Bilbao, it offers easy paths to hubs in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
“Marea comes at a critical time,” said Microsoft president Brad Smith said when the cable was launched. “Submarine cables in the Atlantic already carry 55 percent more data than trans-Pacific routes and 40 percent more data than between the U.S. and Latin America. There is no question that the demand for data flows across the Atlantic will continue to increase and Marea will provide a critical connection for the United States, Spain, and beyond.”