Google is running a new undersea web cable between the US and South America

Undersea web cable
(Image credit: Google)

Google is expanding its network of undersea internet cables with a new fiber optic line running between the US and South America.

The Firmina cable, named after Brazilian abolitionist Maria Firmina dos Reis, will run from the east coast of the US to Argentina, with two branches docking in Brazil and Uruguay.

Once finished, Firmina will be the longest subsea cable capable of running from a single power source, minimizing the likelihood of a power-related blackout.

“With submarine cables, data travels as pulses of light inside the cable’s optical fibers. That light is amplified every 100km with a high-voltage electrical current supplied at landing stations in each country,” explained Google in a blog post.

“While shorter cable systems can enjoy the higher availability of power feeding from a single end, longer cables with large fiber-pair counts make this harder to do.”

Firmina will address this issue by hitting the cable with 20% higher voltage than traditional systems.

Google undersea web cable

With twelve fiber pairs, Firmina will also be among the highest capacity subsea cables in the world. For perspective, a single fiber pair is capable of carrying millions of high-definition videos simultaneously.

Google says the new cable will help give users in South America fast and low-latency access to its various products, such as Search, Gmail, Youtube and Google Cloud services.

The hope is also to provide an all-important boost to resiliency, during a period in which connectivity is more important than ever, with opportunity for physical travel limited by the pandemic.

With Firmina, Google now owns at least a portion of sixteen different subsea cables, many of which are co-owned with fellow tech giants Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.

The new cable also extends the company’s existing network in the region, which includes  Tannat, Monet and Junior cables that serve various areas of South America.

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.