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Google Businesses The Internet Networking

Google Buys a Piece of a Cable To Japan 78

Googling Yourself writes "Google announced that they will be part of a six-company consortium that will build a high-bandwidth sub-sea fiber optic cable linking the US and Japan. The new cable system, named Unity, is expected initially to increase Trans-Pacific lit cable capacity by about 20 percent, with the potential to add up to 7.68 Terabits per second of bandwidth across the Pacific. The name Unity was chosen to signify a new type of consortium, born out of potentially competing systems, to emerge as a system within a system, offering ownership and management of individual fiber pairs. Rumors that Google would join the consortium had originally surfaced in September last year but the company had declined to confirm or deny the news."
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Google Buys a Piece of a Cable To Japan

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  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:45AM (#22556152) Homepage

    ...someone clips this line?

  • by kaos07 ( 1113443 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:49AM (#22556168)
    Specifically this line: "The name Unity was chosen to signify a new type of consortium, born out of potentially competing systems, to emerge as a system within a system, offering ownership and management of individual fiber pairs."
    • Sounds like socialism.

      • by joaommp ( 685612 )
        no, it really sounds like a movie trailler like the ones in the future, that start with some post apocalypic scenario with the voice of a female describing that the world became that way because some huge corporation took over the entire world and fell apart.

        so much for cliché.
        • lol
          But you're right, it sounds exactly like that.
        • Meh, the only difference I can see between that and socialism is that under the "huge corporation" scenario doesn't pretend to preclude high executive salaries.
    • UNITY!!!!

      It sounds like Dave Chappelle as Rick James about to hit Charlie Murphy in the forehead with his ring.

      See Season 2 [answers.com]

  • how many strands (Score:5, Interesting)

    by seanadams.com ( 463190 ) * on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:52AM (#22556180) Homepage
    in such a cable?

    And how do you figure out the optimal capacity to install anyway? To me 7 Tbits does not sounds like much to link two whole countries. Surely there is some point of diminishing returns, but why not more than this?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      AFAIK, the highest speeds on a single fiber are 10Gbps, which would make this a bundle of 768 fibers (which would make sense in accordance with things involving computers commonly involving powers of 2 & 3).

      IANAIE (internet engineer) though.
      • Re:how many strands (Score:5, Informative)

        by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:00AM (#22556470) Homepage
        Actually you might want to look up DWDM and CWDM. It really depends on the cable, but even with systems commercially available (if a bit pricey) today, you can do up to 80 channels on a single fiber strand, allowing for 800 Gbit per fiber line (half duplex), which means you can achieve 800 Gbit per fiber pair full duplex.

        This obviously depends on a lot of things, the most important parts are the retransmission stations on the cable (every 50 km or so), as they're very hard, and VERY expensive to replace. Generally half the fiber strands are backups, and all cables connect only to either even or uneven retransmission stations, allowing the cable to keep functioning with the loss of any one retransmission station (a frequent occurance). Problem is that for repairs a ship needs to come by, retrieve 3 transmission stations from their 200 meter depths, and get engineers close enough to conduct repairs, while preventing other ships from crossing the exposed 200-or-so kilometer of exposed cable. This is one of those ships [k-kcs.jp].

        Btw these retransmission stations are sinking pods that "float" below the ocean at a given depth (generally 200 meters or so). They are powered by a high voltage current transmission system in the cable itself.

        Wikipedia entry on WDM [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mrxak ( 727974 )
      Well, it's still 7 Tbits more than there used to be.
      • by dintech ( 998802 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @09:40AM (#22557456)

        Lets say 314 kbit/s [wikipedia.org] is a ballpark figure for youtube bitrate.
        That means roughly 26,000,000 more Japanese could watch the latest lonelygirl15 installment at once.

        Also it's roughly 36 Mbit/s [wikipedia.org] for blu-ray quality content.
        That means roughly 210,000 more Americans all at once could watch as much HD quality tentacle related entertainment as they wanted.

        Of course if you half those numbers they could share. This could be the beginnings of a great cultural enlightenment for everyone involved!
    • by onion2k ( 203094 )
      The capacity isn't likely to be the reason they're choosing to lay 7TBits of extra bandwidth. They're more likely to be laying what they think they can sell + what they want for themselves + a small amount of redundancy. The physical cable isn't free so putting it a whole lot and leaving it dark is a waste of money. If you don't need it yourself and you can't sell it, why bother?
      • Because it costs a lot more to lay cable than what the actual cable itself costs, and no one knows what the next "killer app" will be, and how bandwidth intensive it is.
    • by ahecht ( 567934 )
      Did you RTFA? No, I guess not, this is slashdot after all. Anyway, here's your answer:

      The new five fiber pair cable system can be expanded up to eight fiber pairs, with each fiber pair capable of carrying up to 960 Gigabits per second (Gbps). By having a high fiber count, Unity is able to offer more capacity at lower unit costs.
      So that's 10 strands, expandable to 16. That probably means that the cable itself has 16 strands, but only 10 are lit.
      • save yourself having to write so much and just send the poster to rtfa.co.uk [slashdot.org]
      • by thogard ( 43403 )
        Its more like they are using 10 channel repeaters and I don't know of anyone using more than 16 channel undersea repeaters which I expect is as large as its stocked on the repair ships. The 2 channel repeaters cost about US$1,000,000 each which gets expensive when you figure you need one every 100 to 200 km or so. I'm surprised that Google didn't look into the new technology from Alcatel which can go thousands of km without a repeater so you can keep all your repeating stations on dry land. Under sea cab
  • Bandwidth (Score:2, Funny)

    by Wowsers ( 1151731 )
    More bandwidth for adverts?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RuBLed ( 995686 )
      I guess so... Japan got around 130 million people and considering the land area of the country it could only mean a greater population density. Ads love greater population densities. Imagine serving ads on public places, in trains and buses, and even on the weird personal gadgets that they always carry. (like their mobile tv on a DS)

      and better yet, they could make it video ads... (if not video ads, then at least youtube could better endure the influx of japanese anime and japanese game shows)
    • Re:Bandwidth (Score:4, Informative)

      by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:40AM (#22556610)

      More bandwidth for adverts?

      No, more bandwidth for undersea-cable rape hentai.
  • by The Ancients ( 626689 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @04:54AM (#22556190) Homepage
    This coupled with Google's open access ideas for wireless in the US could be a very good thing. Although, having cheaper bandwidth for all will benefit Google as well, of course. As they build and absorb other companies, the bandwidth requirements of their product range is ever increasing.
  • by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:00AM (#22556208)
    [...] sustain the unprecedented growth in data and Internet traffic between Asia and the United States. [...](will) increase Trans-Pacific lit (sic) cable capacity by about 20 percent

    Seems pretty significant. Additionally I wonder how this will affect other countries within the Pacific region... in particular (because I reside there) Australia. It is a fairly short hop from Japan to Australia, and hopefully at some point the increased bandwidth is extended.

    At Chikura, Unity will be seamlessly connected to other cable systems, further enhancing connectivity into Asia.

    This statement seems to at least allure to increased bandwidth to all nearby nations, including I suppose nations not "Asian"; e.g. China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Australia and maybe New Zealand. This, of course, is pure conjecture on my part; but a new link to Japan, while being great for Japan, may be just a stepping stone onto even bigger things. My globe just shrunk a little bit more.
    • by kitsunewarlock ( 971818 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:37AM (#22556382) Journal

      My globe just shrunk a little bit more.

      They sell a creme for that.
    • by totally bogus dude ( 1040246 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:18AM (#22556536)

      I don't think it will have much, if any, effect on Australia. Most of the focus of our ISPs is getting to the West coast of North America, and going via Japan is a pretty significant detour. Mind you, the Australia-Japan Cable gives us 320 Gbit/sec to Japan.

      A trace from a server in Ohio to (one of google.co.jp's addresses) has a RTT of 200 ms, which is about the same as the East coast of Australia to www.google.com (I get 230 ms from Perth). So for US-based sites going via this new cable would, I imagine, be quite a bit slower than via more direct links. We also already have several independent links to the US, so it wouldn't even be much benefit to us as a backup.

      According to this random site [happyzebra.com], Sydney to San Jose is almost 12,000 km (by air). Sydney to Tokyo is 7,700 km. The press release declares that the new cable will be approximately 10,000 km, so that's around an extra 5,000 km via this route minimum. I suspect any run from Australia to Japan isn't going to be particular direct though; AJC is apparently 12,700 km.

      This PDF [atug.com.au] provides some maps of the approximate cable locations. It has one marked "New Japan-US Plans" which might be referring to the Unity cable.

      • Actually it will have a massive impact once PIPE's fiber link to Guam is complete.

        Not only will ISPs be able to get cheaper bandwidth, it will also be faster.
      • by daBass ( 56811 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @06:44AM (#22556628)
        It will have a big impact, see my other comment [slashdot.org].

        In short: we are getting a 2Tb cable to Guam in 2009 and Unity's Southern loop will go through there too.
      • The ping time only gives you latency. Latency is mostly interesting for online gaming. The difference between 200 and 400ms isn't going to get noticed by anyone surfing and certainly not for big downloads or streaming. Also, cable length has very little influence on latency, probably being the cause of only 10-20% of it. Light goes at almost 300KM/sec and as you point out the AJC is only 12,700KM long. Much of the latency is caused in TCP/IP level switching. If an ISP ordered a circuit from Sydney to LA via
        • Light goes at almost 300KM/sec and as you point out the AJC is only 12,700KM long

          That doesn't sound right ;), but I get your point.

          A good example:

          5 pos4-0.bdr1.syd7.internode.on.net ( 203.835 ms 203.779 ms 203.355 ms
          6 pos2-0.bdr1.sjc2.internode.on.net ( 202.367 ms 202.518 ms 202.337 ms
          7 ge-6-20.car3.SanJose1.Level3.net ( 202.347 ms 202.269 ms 202.844 ms

          You're forgetting that Internode use MPLS, which results in funny looking RTTs in traceroutes. For example, from Perth to a host in the US:

          1 lns1.per1.internode.on.net ( 6.194 ms 4.530 ms 4.421 ms
          2 gi0-2-3.cor1.per1.internode.on.net ( 211.900 ms 211.620 ms 211.627 ms
          3 pos4-0.bdr1.adl6.internode.on.net ( 215.510 ms 232.622 ms 220.000 ms

          I assure you the RTT between my modem and Internode's Perth core is not 200ms, as this trace directly to that address shows:

          1 lns1.per1.internode.on.net ( 6.455 ms 5.237 ms 5.084 ms
          2 gi0-2-3.cor1.per1.internode.on.net ( 4.649 ms 4.430 ms 4.430 ms

          So similarly, I'm positive that the latency between Sydney and San Jose is significantly more than the millisecond or show your trace purports to show. They have a good description of it o

    • by daBass ( 56811 )
      Well, we could be in luck. In a little over a year, a new 2Tb cable to Guam [on.net] is coming online. From what I can gather on the internet, part of "Unity" is Pacnet's EAC Pacific cable. This will cover the Southern loop of the system and pass through ... Guam!

      Finally, we won't be solely dependent on the Southern Cross Cable [wikipedia.org] our Kiwi friends gracefully provided us with, or the woefully inadequate Australia-Japan cable [wikipedia.org].
      • by thogard ( 43403 )
        There are other cables from Australia -> US. Its just that companies like AT&T and Telstra don't talk about theirs. In fact the Southern Cross Cable was the modern cable to be hyped.
        • by daBass ( 56811 )
          Exactly, the modern one made for big internet bandwidth. All the other, older, cables simply don't have anywhere near the capacity needed for current-day internet use. In essence, they are telephone cables more than anything. They are used for calls and low-bandwidth fixed corporate data circuits, but the ISPs don't tend to use them.

          There are loads of cables from here into asia too. But again, all of them are too low capacity; the only somewhat useful one for internet traffic is the Perth-Singapore cable.
    • Queue the Google Conspiracy [google-watch.org] theories...
    • I heard, a number of years ago, that Australia had bee locked in to using a single provider or two and the cost was astronomical. I think this was in Western Australia primarily, but the situation wasn't too much better even in the more populated Eastern Australia. Do you guys have any competition for broadband out there yet?
      • There's a lot of competition in the broadband arena, but it's almost all delivered via ADSL. There's a few cable deployments but they cover only a very small number of people. Nothing wrong with ADSL, but most of the infrastructure is owned by Telstra, formerly Telecom Australia, from the days when they were publically owned. Now they're a private company which owns all the infrastructure (and provides access to competing ISPs via Telstra Wholesale), but they also operate their own retail ISP, trading as Bi

  • Terabits again. I have a friend who doesn't understand Terabits, can someone put that in Libraries of Congress for my...ahem...friend?
    • In congress terms, a terabit is a thousand pipes.
    • I don't really understand LoC, so I googled a figure.
      http://www.uplink.freeuk.com/data.html [freeuk.com]

      10 Terabytes: The printed collection of the US Library of Congress

      mage@prometheus:~$ calc 7/8
      mage@prometheus:~$ calc 10/.875

      11.43 seconds per LoC
      • ~11.42857142857142857143

        Ummm ... so how much is that in Volkswagen Beetles?

      • Sorry. 100 Terabytes: The entire internet NOT!
        100 Terabytes does not even cover 1 Patette of TB drives @ costco. ( I counted... there were 120 on the palette and 9 had been taken...111 terabytes of data on the wall.. i digress ).

        The internet includes the largest databases in the world, and all the video as well as the raw data. and:
        "The Internet Archive at BA includes the web collection of 1996 to 2006. It represents 1.5 petabytes of data stored on 880 computers."

        So, you are off by more than an order of mag
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Umuri ( 897961 )
      Being as the standard estimate used in the LoC/s standard (20 terabytes/sec), and it's a 7.68 terabit line, you can do some simple math.

      Assuming that a terabyte is 8 terabits, the line adds .96 terabytes/sec in bandwidth, so you'd get the Library of Congress in around 21 seconds.

      So approximately 1/21 LoC/sec, or 2.85 LoC/min.
  • by Raindeer ( 104129 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:32AM (#22556352) Homepage Journal
    Just posted this on my blog: http://lunaticthought.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com] (You can find more info here on the economics of submarine fibre and nice pictures of the Tyco Responder Cable laying vessel)

    Gigaom is reporting on Google buying a share into the Unity submarine cable. Many people will read into this an attempt by Google to become a telco or do anything out of its current layer 7 service and application business. I don't belief it is, it's just simple economics. Google now buys wholesale capacity instead of retail. My reaction on Gigaom was:

    One of the main drivers for wanting your own fibre on certain submarine routes is the pricing strategy of the owners of the submarine fiber. Traditionally these fibres have been owned by incumbent national monopolists. Their pricing was set at a fixed price per Mbit/s. If your banndwidth utilisation grew, their income grew too, though their costs didn't, leading to excess profits. On the Transatlantic route this problem has been solved by having an oversupply of commercial competitive fiber. The oversupply resulted in a situation I call mutually assured destruction, where everybody went bankrupt and whole networks were sold for pennies.

    On the Pacific route it's mostly incumbent national monopolists owning fibre and they probably have learned from the Atlantic disaster. This means prices don't drop (or not as quickly as traffic growth) and that means that some parties see an increase in their traffic costs. Google now has solved this by joining a club of submarine fiber owners and not having to worry anymore about the cost of a megabit/s. Google just has to worry about when they will fill up their terabit chunk and when someone will slice through the fibre.

    BTW I'm willing to bet Google will join another club on this route to add some much needed redundancy.
    • Well, yes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2008 @05:57AM (#22556448)
      Interesting points. For a (not entirely off-topic) good read on the lost fortunes and tenacity of individuals making a transatlantic cable reality, I'd recommend A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable by J.S.Gordon. The first cable (not fiber-optic of course) was a pain in the butt for all. As far as I know, the lessons learned in those pioneering days are still important. This [wikipedia.org] contains some interesting info on those pioneering days.

      BTW I'm willing to bet Google will join another club on this route to add some much needed redundancy.

      I am willing to bet you're right.

      • Not to be redundant, because it's linked in the Wikipedia article you cite and probably elsewhere in this thread, but Slashdot readers may find this [wired.com] to be a particularly interesting read.
  • anchors (Score:2, Insightful)

    let's watch out for those stray anchors [slashdot.org] people.
  • There isn't a huge amount of data transfer between Japan and the US. Google is not a very strong brand in Japan, or Asia, but they may have a goal to improve that through future products or acquisitions.

    To the Aussie who said Australia is just a short hop from Japan, uh... never mind.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by tkh ( 126785 )
      You should use more reliable information source on this. Google *is* the most popular search engine in Japan, and YouTube traffic has been taking bandwidth between the U.S. and Japan. This is one of the main motivations for Google to buy a piece of a cable.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by fullback ( 968784 )
        Yahoo is the most popular search engine in Japan.

        Japanese speak Japanese. They don't visit or read English-langiage websites any more than Americans visit Japanese-language websites hosted in Japan. Get it?

        I live in Japan. You know nothing.

        • Oh, plus Yahoo Japan and Google Japan servers are in Japan.
        • by tkh ( 126785 )
          I stand corrected. Yahoo is still the most popular search engine in Japan with, but saying that Google is not a strong brand in Japan is wrong. Google is the second most popular search engine with the share of 35%, and the share gap between them and Yahoo is getting smaller and smaller very quickly. Here is the source [comscore.com]. It is reported last September, so the gap is even smaller now.

          I specifically mentioned YouTube video traffic for the main reason to taking up bandwidth. Google (including YouTube) has se
        • Yahoo is the most popular search engine in Japan.

          Japanese speak Japanese. They don't visit or read English-langiage websites any more than Americans visit Japanese-language websites hosted in Japan. Get it?
          I'm not sure what you're getting at, this looks like Japanese to me [google.co.jp]...
  • Sweet! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Sabz5150 ( 1230938 )
    A brand new fat pipe to download tentacle he^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H internet content!
  • One of Google's motivations for the Trans-Pacific capacity bandwidth is to support the new data centers it will be building in Asia, as discussed here on Slashdot [slashdot.org] last month and updated today at Data Center Knowledge [datacenterknowledge.com]. In recent months there have been reports that Google has been scouting multiple locations around the Pacific Rim for new facilities, and it could easily have one or more ready by the time the undersea cable is completed in 2010. Google likes strong connectivity between its data centers. The pl
  • On a related note, this article [wired.com] by Neal Stephenson on laying submarine cables is an awesome (but dated) read.

Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. - Paul Tillich, German theologian and historian