The ridiculously fast Marea transatlantic internet cable is complete

Microsoft and Facebook may not be as cool as SpongeBob, but they do now have a mighty cable under the sea which is almost as impressive as a pineapple. The two companies has completed its Marea subsea cable, a groundbreaking – or should that be seabreaking? – infrastructure project that will funnel vast quantities of high-speed data more than 17,000 feet under the Atlantic Ocean.

Work began on the cable last year, and it was completed this week. It connects Virginia and Spain – Virginia Beach and Bilbao, to be exact – and was a joint project between Microsoft, Facebook, and Telxius, a telecoms infrastructure company. It also purposefully took a different route from existing underwater cables.

They generally span the ocean further north, but the trio decided to shift the map somewhat this time. "Being physically separate from the other cables helps ensure more resilient and reliable connections for customers in the United States, Europe and beyond," Microsoft points out.

It's not the only change in strategy, either. Marea uses a new design, which Microsoft is describing as "open", so as to be more flexible when faced with architectural changes as internet growth continues. Part of its strength is the vast bandwidth it supports: 160 terabits (TBs/sec), in fact.

That, Microsoft helpfully points out, is about 16m times faster than the typical home connection. Then again, with more than 10m pounds of cable spanning over 4,000 miles, you'd expect big things. Were it solely turned over to streaming high-definition videos, you could play 71 million of them before you started to reach its limits.

It's unlikely to be used for just that, of course. Microsoft and Facebook see Marea as being instrumental in the growth of cloud services, further blurring the lines between local and remote computing by decreasing things like latency in platforms including Azure and more. It won't just be Europe and the North America which benefit, either; users in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia are all expected to reap the rewards of having a new, high-speed transatlantic link.

For the moment, though, Microsoft is pushing its new Azure Availability Zones, which will be fault-isolated locations within an Azure region. Promising an financially-backed 99.99-percent virtual machines uptime SLA, with redundant power, networking, and cooling, there'll be 42 regions eventually, though Microsoft will start off with two – one in the US and one in Europe – initially.