ACA International, LLC, in partnership with South Atlantic Express International Ltd. (SAEx) plan to land the third high-speed subsea cable in Virginia Beach. ACA will be the landing party and neutral co-location service provider for the main trunk of the SAEx cable.
The 72 terabit per second bandwidth SAEx cable will be the only system connecting South Africa directly to the U.S. It will combine with a partner system from Fortaleza, Brazil, to offer a truly diverse transatlantic network, with a planned second phase from South Africa to Asia.
"This is the third high-speed cable agreement to be finalized in Virginia Beach," said Virginia Beach Economic Development Director Warren D. Harris. "This new connection from South Africa is a significant addition to our global connectivity infrastructure, and strengthens the city's position as a Tier One digital community."
The world's fastest subsea data cables installed by Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius connect Virginia Beach to Europe and South America. Globalinx Data Centers is also building a 150,000-square-foot, three-phased data center campus in proximity to the Telxius Cable Landing Station in Virginia Beach.
"The addition of SAEx to our open and neutral cable landing station is significant as it provides a direct link for both South Africa and LATAM into our new Digital Port in Virginia Beach," said Joel Ogren, CEO at ACA International. "The collaboration with SAEx and the deployment of the SAEx subsea cable system will enable us to foster cost-effective, high-speed broadband connectivity between Southern Africa and the Americas."
Dr. Rosalind Thomas, Managing Director of SAEx International, said, "Extending SAEx to the United States will boost access to the worldwide infrastructure and open up traffic diversity to increase access and service reliability, as demand from consumers and businesses grows rapidly. We are pleased to be collaborating with ACA International in the expansion of services and applications that are enabled by high-bandwidth networks, which are a catalyst for economic and social progress."
ACA International previously announced plans to purchase a 10.2-acre site in Corporate Landing Business Park for a 130,000-square-foot facility that will house its new corporate headquarter offices, a tier III data center providing neutral co-location services and also serve as the cable landing station.
"In addition to being the newest cable landing destination on the East Coast, Virginia Beach has a robust broadband infrastructure that is being upgraded to support the next generation of telecommunication systems," said Ben Davenport, Virginia Beach City Council member. "A 126-linear mile municipal fiber network provides connectivity throughout the region ensuring municipal, educational and commercial facilities have access to the best digital technology available. The digital infrastructure is also available to help private carriers provide high-quality, high-speed service to our citizens."
Virginia Beach has already laid the groundwork for a world-class telecommunications system complete with available cable landing and data center sites, certified power requirements by Dominion Energy, available fiber access hubs and permits in place.
ACA recently announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters to Virginia Beach, has announced
ABOUT ACA INTERNATIONAL, LLC
ACA International, LLC. is headquartered in Vint Hill, Virginia (USA), and provides personnel and services to support the global telecom industry. In addition, the company. designs/builds/operates critical infrastructure facilities including cable landing stations and Tier III/IV neutral co-location facilities. For more information on ACA International and the Virginia Beach, Virginia Cable Landing Station and neutral co-location services, please visit www.ACAIntl.net. Contact: JOEL OGREN, President/CEO Joel@ACAIntl.net.
ABOUT SAEX INTERNATIONAL LTD.
SAEx International Ltd, based in Mauritius with a subsidiary company (SAEx SA (Pty) Ltd) in South Africa, is building the South Atlantic Express (SAEx) cable, which will offer a minimum design capacity of 72Tbit/s (about 72 000Gbit/s), and will connect Mtunzini on KwaZulu-Natal's north coast to Yzerfontein north of Cape Town, with branching units in East London and Port Elizabeth. It will then cross the South Atlantic to Fortaleza in Brazil to link to a partner system, with a direct link to Virginia Beach, Virginia, being planned as its final development on this phase. Contact: Dr. Rosalind Thomas, Managing Director, Rosalind@saexsa.co.za.
Cindy Mackey is a publicist for the city of Virginia Beach.
AMAREA cable linking America with Europe
Norfolk is a nautical port. Virginia Beach is now a digital port, thanks to the arrival last week of Marea, a subsea data cable running from Spain's rocky coastline to Virginia Beach's sandy shore. The project made ground recently at Camp Pendleton and a special station will be built in Corporate Landing Park for operations and maintenance.
The project's completion was celebrated last year in Williamsburg at the Kingsmill Resort, during the XXII United States-Spain Forum, where business and political leaders meet and discuss education and cultural matters.
The following, detailed project overview was written by Deborah Bach and can be found on Microsoft's website: https://news.micrhttps://news.microsoft.com/mareaosoft.com/marea.
By Deborah Bach
People and organizations rely on global networks every day to provide access to internet and cloud technology. Those systems enable tasks both simple and complex, from uploading photos and searching webpages to conducting banking transactions and managing air-travel logistics. Most people are aware of their daily dependency on the internet, but few understand the critical role played by the subsea networks spanning the planet in providing that connectivity.
The importance of those networks was underscored when Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast of the U.S. in October 2012. The superstorm devastated coastal communities, caused billions of dollars in damage and shut down wireless, internet and home phone service for days. Flooding knocked out servers, shut down websites and disrupted connectivity across sectors, from electronic trading to online media, affecting transatlantic communications connecting some of the world’s largest economies.
“It was a major disruption,” said Frank Rey, director of global network strategy for Microsoft’s Cloud Infrastructure and Operations division. “The entire network between North America and Europe was isolated for a number of hours. For us, the storm brought to light a potential challenge in the consolidation of transatlantic cables that all landed in New York and New Jersey”
The superstorm sparked the realization that another major event could disrupt the vital connectivity lifeline across the Atlantic. As part of its ongoing efforts to drive innovation and expand capacity of its global network, Microsoft sought options for making transatlantic connections more resilient, and became aware that Facebook leaders shared a similar perspective.
“We kept running into each other at industry events and meetings,” Rey says. “We collectively recognized that we were each trying to solve the same problem and could combine our technical and engineering expertise to reinforce the transatlantic network and design a better cable for global connectivity.”
Microsoft and Facebook agreed to partner on the development, design and implementation of a 4,000-mile-long subsea cable connecting Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Bilbao, Spain. Global telecommunication infrastructure company Telxius, a subsidiary of telecom provider Telefónica, joined as the third partner to manage the construction process and operate the cable.
Dubbed Marea, Spanish for “tide,” it is the first subsea cable connecting Virginia and Spain. Situating the cable many miles south of the current connection points on both continents helps safeguard against natural disasters or other major events disrupting connectivity across the Atlantic.
Marea is also the highest-capacity subsea cable to cross the Atlantic, providing up to 160 terabits of data per second. That’s more than 16 million times faster than the average home internet connection, with the capability to stream 71 million high-definition videos simultaneously. Additionally, Marea’s landing point in Bilbao provides a convenient path to network hubs in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, and its enormous bandwidth will help meet the increasing demand for internet and cloud services.
“Marea comes at a critical time,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “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.”
The project highlights the increasing role of private companies in building the infrastructure of the future. Microsoft and Facebook designed the cable to be interoperable with a variety of networking equipment. Through a new “open” design, the cable can evolve with technology, ensuring the highest performance for current and future users, even as the global population of internet users grows.
The cable, which is about 1.5 times the diameter of a garden hose, contains eight pairs of fiber optic cables encircled by copper, a hard-plastic protective layer and a waterproof coating. Some portions closer to shore are buried to protect the cable from fishing and ship traffic, but for most of its route, the cable lays on the ocean floor.
Najam Ahmad, vice president network engineering for Facebook, says Marea’s flexible design will allow the company to adapt to future needs and better support its increasingly data-intensive services. The cable also serves Facebook’s goal of enabling users to have “deep connections and shared experiences” with people around the world, he says.
“Obviously, connectivity is one part of achieving that goal. Marea will help us connect people more quickly and efficiently,” Ahmad said. “More broadly, robust connectivity can help a wide variety of people build relationships and collaborate between countries and across cultures.”
Rafael Arranz, chief operating officer for Telxius, said, “All of these applications, especially everything that is driven by video, consume a huge amount of bandwidth. So everybody needs to be connected with a high-volume, high-bandwidth infrastructure. With its unique route, this cable is going to be able to absorb and deliver back-and-forth traffic to strengthen communications, not just across the Atlantic, but across the globe.”
Marea will serve what has become an increasingly important route for cross-border data flows between the United States and Europe. Transatlantic data flows are expected to continue growing as more consumers use mobile smart devices to access the internet. By 2018, 93 percent of U.S. mobile devices and 83 percent of Western Europe’s mobile devices will be smart devices, according to a study by Brookings.
Northern Virginia has long been one of the main internet data center hubs in the world, and for that reason Virginia Beach, on the southeastern tip of the state, was chosen as the U.S. landing point. Officials in Virginia Beach say the project will help diversify the city’s economy, which is heavily dependent on tourism and the area’s strong military presence.
“Marea is allowing us to become a digital port, not just a port city,” says Warren Harris, director of the Virginia Beach Development Authority. “And the fact that Microsoft is a partner in the cable has given us a level of validation to talk about the benefits of what Virginia Beach can mean for companies. I’m extremely excited.”
The project prompted Spanish metal manufacturer Sanjo to invest $17.5 million to build a new factory in Virginia Beach. The plant will serve as a branch of Sanjo’s Barcelona headquarters and enable it to better serve its global clientele, says Santiago Cruz Jr., the company’s vice president.
“Having good, high-speed communications allows us to have the two (sites) communicating at any time,” Cruz said. “In the end, everything we move is data and information.”
Marea may draw more centers to VB
Robert Hudome, the Virginia Beach Development Authority’s senior project development manager, said Marea has also prompted interest from companies hoping to open new data centers in Virginia Beach.
“We’re already seeing a lot of interest in data centers being developed here because of the connectivity of the cable,” Hudome said. “And it’s not just national, it’s also international. We see this as an opportunity for a whole new industry sector to develop and bring new capital investment and jobs with it.”
The project required charting a course with average depths of almost 11,000 feet and hazards ranging from active volcanoes and earthquake zones to coral reefs. The cable, which is about 1.5 times the diameter of a garden hose, contains eight pairs of fiber optic cables encircled by copper, a hard-plastic protective layer and a waterproof coating. Some portions closer to shore are buried to protect the cable from fishing and ship traffic, but for most of its route, the cable lays on the ocean floor.
Construction of Marea started in August 2016, and the cable began its journey across the Atlantic approximately five months ago. The physical work to manufacture and lay the cable has now been completed, and it is planned to be operational in early 2018. From design through construction, Marea was completed in less than two years — nearly three times faster than the typical subsea cable project.
For Rey, Hurricane Sandy drove home the need for the cable on both a personal and professional level. He was home with his family in New Jersey when the storm hit, toppling a tree in the yard and crushing a car parked outside with a force so violent it shook the house. Rey wanted to let relatives in Europe know that the family was safe, but with connectivity down, he couldn’t reach them.
“Everyone expects that whenever they turn on their computer or their tablet or their phone, they’re going to work. That’s what this cable is going to help enable,” he said. “Taking a step to improve the resiliency of the internet infrastructure was something we saw as a positive for the entire global network, and a positive for people who rely on their digital devices for so many aspects of their daily lives.”