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Google announces ‘Grace Hopper’ subsea cable connecting US to UK, Spain

In recent years, Google has been building private subsea cables in addition to leasing access and partnering on joint efforts. Google’s latest project is “Grace Hopper” and will connect the US with the UK and Spain.

Today, 98% of international internet traffic is ferried around the world by subsea cables. A vast underwater network of cables crisscrossing the ocean makes it possible to share, search, send, and receive information around the world at the speed of light.

Targeting a 2022 completion date, the Grace Hopper cable will feature 16 fiber pairs (32 fibers) in what Google calls a “significant upgrade to the internet infrastructure connecting the US with Europe.” The stateside connection is in New York, while there are landing sites in both Bude, UK, and Bilbao, Spain. 

It is the company’s first investment on a subsea route to the latter country, and will “more tightly integrat[e] the upcoming Google Cloud region in Madrid” with the rest of the company’s infrastructure. Benefiting both consumers and enterprise customers, it’s one of the first cables between the US and UK since 2003.

On the technical front, the Grace Hopper is the first-ever cable to implement novel optical fiber switching. This technology allows Google to “better move traffic around outages,” and will come to other systems moving forward.

The naming inspiration is clear:

This cable is named for computer science pioneer Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (1906–1992), best known for her work on one of the first linkers (compilers), which was critical in the development of the COBOL programming language. She’s also credited with famously finding an actual “bug” in a program; her team tracked down the source of a short circuit on the early Harvard Mark II computer to a moth trapped in a panel. We’re thrilled to honor Grace Hopper’s legacy of innovation by investing in the future of transatlantic communications with a state-of-the-art fiber optic cable. 

This is Google’s fourth cable after Curie (US to Chile and Panama), Dunant (US to France), and Equiano (Portugal to South America). In directly owning and operating, the company gets to “add a layer of security beyond what’s available over the public internet.”

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Avatar for Abner Li Abner Li

Editor-in-chief. Interested in the minutiae of Google and Alphabet. Tips/talk: