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Transpacific Unity Fiber Optic Cable Leaves Japan

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the off-to-seek-its-fortune dept.

The Internet 136

JoshuaInNippon writes "The 10,000 km (6,200 mile) long Unity fiber optic cable, funded by Google and five East Asian communication companies, left Japanese shores on November 1st to be laid along the northern Pacific Ocean floor. The Japanese end of the cable is expected to be fused to the American end sometime around November 11th. The cable, which was announced in February of 2008 at a cost of around $300 million USD, has the theoretical capacity of 7.68 Tbps, but will be set at a capacity of about 4.8 Tbps (supposedly equivalent to about 75 million simultaneous phone calls) during its initial use. When Unity begins full operation sometime early next year, it is projected to increase internet traffic capacity between the two regions by over 20%, a wonderful boost to transpacific relations!"

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136 comments

Yes! (5, Funny)

SalaSSin (1414849) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949364)

Woohoo! Faster Hentai downloads :-)

Re:Yes! (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949512)

$300m, isn't that the cost of a few US senators "campaign contributions"? :(

More fiber please, money that's more wisely spent. Now how about tackling the problem of fiber to the home.

Random Article in Wikipedia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949536)

A few days ago I pressed Random Article in Wikipedia, and ended up at gokkun. I wish I had not.

Re:Yes! (3, Funny)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949690)

That would be the case if one part would still be in Japan. However the cable left Japan, which must mean both sides (and everything in the middle) is ouside of Japan.

(Yes, I only read the subject, why?)

Re:Yes! (4, Funny)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950320)

That maybe fine for you, but here in Japan the Internet is basically one big LAN.

So basically we have so much of the stuff tentacles are poking out of our USB ports.

What that does mean for us, here in the land of Hello Kitty, is faster access to a range of porn featuring fewer celaphods and more girls with non-pixelized genitals.

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949374)

this article gave me a real boast

Yeah but (1, Troll)

TreyGeek (1391679) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949380)

"it is projected to increase internet traffic capacity between the two regions by over 20%, a wonderful boast to transpacific relations!"

That is until a ship drops anchor on top of it.

Re:Yeah but (4, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949402)

Or Godzilla decides he is hungry.

You know how these things go (1, Offtopic)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949454)

You know how these things go. They will wake Godzilla by laying the cable, but later run into a mysterious mist cover island with a giant ape who will defeat the monster.

Re:You know how these things go (1, Offtopic)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949482)

What happens to the Ape after Godzilla is taken care of?

Apes are too hairy to just freeze to death you know... You should really think your plans through!

Re:You know how these things go (1, Offtopic)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949796)

need a giant snake... that'll freeze to death in winter, and make excellent handbags

Re:You know how these things go (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950960)

I would have thought it was obvious what happens to the giant ape.

It grabs a random female in skimpy clothing, climbs the Empire State Building, and gets shot down by bi-planes.

Mostly Crap (0, Flamebait)

pcjunky (517872) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949390)

With all the crap that comes in via Asia, hacks SPAM, etc Maybe it would be better to cut the cables that are there now. I already null route most of china anyway.

Re:Mostly Crap (1)

dwinks616 (1536791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949760)

Most? I'm all for most cable between here and Asia. Blocking China (or all of Asia) via HOSTS is a good idea, but also letting them connect to US servers and hopefully spend money on our crap is also good.

Dam (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949422)

Even fiber optic cable is getting laid...

Re:Dam (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949496)

Even fiber optic cable is getting laid...

Never mind. Your turn will come someday.

Re:Dam (1)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949572)

Even fiber optic cable is getting laid...

Never mind. Your turn will come someday.

His turn will come when he learns how to spell, damn it.

Re:Dam (0, Offtopic)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949918)

I don't think women look at how guys spell as a factor for whether or not they're going to have sex. You seriously think that being a "good guy" will get you any sex? Think twice! :-)

Re:Dam (2, Insightful)

Darth Sdlavrot (1614139) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950126)

I don't think women look at how guys spell as a factor for whether or not they're going to have sex. You seriously think that being a "good guy" will get you any sex? Think twice! :-)

No I don't actually.

On the other hand I do, somewhat belatedly, realize that I should have added some kind of sarcasm tags for the benefit of those who couldn't figure out that "when he learns how to spell" was a euphemism for "never."

Re:Dam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950560)

So, does this qualify as cybersex?

How does that work, exactly? (4, Interesting)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949424)

So I've got a bunch of cable laying around, figure I'll run my own line from Japan to California. How does that work, exactly? I assume the cable is protected in some extremely strong waterproof and snag-proof sheath, but do they really just roll it off the ship, let it fall to the ocean floor, and there it sits? Do they have to occasionally throw a repeater overboard as well? I've always been curious how we're actually able to have these outrageously long cables under the sea and that it works, and works well enough that I believe cables are still the preferred method of data movement, with satellites being a distant second.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949458)

So I've got a bunch of cable laying around, figure I'll run my own line from Japan to California. How does that work, exactly? I assume the cable is protected in some extremely strong waterproof and snag-proof sheath, but do they really just roll it off the ship, let it fall to the ocean floor, and there it sits? Do they have to occasionally throw a repeater overboard as well? I've always been curious how we're actually able to have these outrageously long cables under the sea and that it works, and works well enough that I believe cables are still the preferred method of data movement, with satellites being a distant second.

i would think the rediculously long distance across the ocean is a fraction of the distance to the closest satellite... wouldn't you ?

Re:How does that work, exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949520)

Store-and-forward satellite repeaters could be as close as 400 miles from the ground stations. Either ground station. Of course, the up to 90 minute ballistic segment does increase the lag somewhat.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (4, Informative)

UnHolier than ever (803328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949484)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_communications_cable#Optical_telephone_cables [wikipedia.org]

Yes, you need repeaters every 100km or so, which are powered through the cable by DC current.

Other than that, I think it just lays in the bottom, yes. These are sturdy cable, they weigh about 10 kg/m.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (3, Interesting)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949522)

I believe that the cable is plowed in close to shore where possible to protect it against nets, anchors, etc.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (5, Interesting)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950068)

Don't forget sharks, that seem to be fooled by the electric field that results from the DC current powering the repeaters, and occasionally attack the cables. I believe newer cables include upgraded armor that is more shark-resistant.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950548)

Yes, but can the "upgraded armor" handle the sharks with lasers?

Re:How does that work, exactly? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950650)

but if they start putting armor on the fiber optic repeaters, how will the next generation of sharks get the lasers they so desperately need?

Re:How does that work, exactly? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950878)

How about... you know... shielding the the freaking fields?? ...and not make the animals go nuts. It's cheaper too.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951044)

You know, we do so much to protect undersea cables from sharks. Why can't we spend the same effort protecting marriage [theonion.com] from sharks?

Re:How does that work, exactly? (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950822)

Correct. Jets of water are used to bury the cable near shore to protect it, although it sits unprotected at depth.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (3, Interesting)

TBoon (1381891) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949666)

with satellites being a distant second.

Have you ever used satellite internet/phones? I have at sea. And disregarding the much lower speeds, the lag makes it highly unsuitable for some usages. We had VOIP phones on our connection. With geostationary satellites the signal take about 200ms just to get from your local point on earth and back down to the other ground-based point. That's very noticable when talking with someone on the phone. Especially when adding a bit more delays at the VOIP-stage and PSTN side too... On the other hand, you can get to pretty much anywhere on the planet within 50ms with a cable. (In theory, disregarding delay at routing, and non-direct routes.)

Re:How does that work, exactly? (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951102)

On the other hand, you can get to pretty much anywhere on the planet within 50ms with a cable. (In theory, disregarding delay at routing, and non-direct routes.)
Lets assume that light in a fiber travels at 2x10^8 m/s (light travels slower in fiber than in free space though i'm not sure how much slower offhand), according to wikipedia the earths cicumfrence is about 4x10^7 m, so halfway round the world would be 2x10^7 m.

so to get halfway arround the world would take about 100ms minimum, the round trip time (the mopst common means of measuring latency in the IT field) will be double that figure (e.g. 200ms minium).

Still much better than satelite though, a link via geostationary sattelite will add a minimum of about 400ms to the round trip time and in practice it may be much worse depending on how media access control is handled. Non geostationary satalites can avoid this but they have other problems.

Re:How does that work, exactly? (4, Interesting)

sponga (739683) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950056)

Yeah screw the article, here is a video and they speak a thousand words. Very cool to actually see the cable being pulled out and what the repeater looks like.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dOyKdJWPlZY [youtube.com]

SEACOM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgKezSWuAGE&feature=related [youtube.com]

Construction of East Africa's undersea fibre optics cable
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dW0Fp-bbKWI [youtube.com]

Alaska Communications Systems Undersea Fiber Optic Projects
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJt0sh1d-H0 [youtube.com]

Re:How does that work, exactly? (1)

fortyonejb (1116789) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951222)

On the satellite question, why are satellites a distant second? Well, the answer is right there, distance. Geostationary satellites orbit at 35,000 KM above the earth. So, if you wanted to send a signal from california to the satellite and have the satellite send it to Japan (assuming one satellite positioned perfectly could hit both locations) you'd at a MINIMUM have to travel 70,000 KM. that is 7 times the distance that a signal travels on the undersea line. I think it is pretty self explanatory from there.

We need more submarines (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949434)

We need more submarines to patrol this vital commercial lifeline. In its current state it is just asking for the Italians to attack it. Do we want another Pearl Harbor, but this time, a "digital" one? Vigilance equals freedom!

Faster Access To Hulu! (5, Funny)

corsec67 (627446) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949440)

Sweet, this will give me faster access to Hulu, Slacker, and all of the nice American websites.

Surprisingly small sounding numbers (2, Interesting)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949450)

For some reason 4.8 terabits/s doesn't sound like that much to me. Obviously it must be since it's boosting traffic by 20% but intuitively I would have imagined another 2 or 3 orders of magnitude for an inter-continental link.

Re:Surprisingly small sounding numbers (2, Interesting)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949548)

The 20% figure is based on the 7.5tb/s speed not the initial 4.8 but still. The % value is the important one to your or I anyways, the actual tb/s figure is meaningless aside from getting a nerd hard on for the bandwidth.

Re:Surprisingly small sounding numbers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949580)

Tell that to Law enforcement - the tapping eqipments farm is going to blow someones budget.

Re:Surprisingly small sounding numbers (1)

dingen (958134) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949820)

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. With all of the megabit and gigabit links being thrown around, surely a major line like this should have more bandwith than a mere few terabits?

I suppose not.

Re:Surprisingly small sounding numbers (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950672)

Traffic between east asian regions and the americas has always been extremely limited, and expensive. Honestly, as soon as you leave your own ISP's territory, traffic starts being very limited. This is helped by the fact that ISPs have deals between them to even out the cost, and that the vast majority of traffic stays in house, on top of having bigger content providers replicate their stuff around the world (google, youtube, microsoft, akamai...), but if it wasn't for that, Google or Microsoft alone would saturate many international pipes, nevermind the whole internet.

Re:Surprisingly small sounding numbers (1)

bored_lurker (788136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950862)

The reason it is smaller than you would think is a thing called reachability. While I do not work with submarine cables I have been doing fiber optic equipment for about 20 years. From a metro perspective the numbers seem small given DWDM systems that can achieve many channels of 40G and 100G but there are limitations particularly related to distance. I really am not sure what the amps are (I would guess mostly EDFAs and RAMAN amps plus some back to back amps for regen to clean the signal up) but the higher the speeds the shorter the distance and more amps are needed. All of this adds complexity in an inhospitable environment and greatly adds to the cost.

If anything surprises me about this article is the cost - $300 million seems a bit cheap for the fiber (in an armored submarine cable), transmission equipment, and labor to lay a 10,000 km cable.

Re:Surprisingly small sounding numbers (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951520)

I work in Fiber.
10gbit/s is the standard for high speed links, that'd be OC-192 or 10G Ethernet. 40gbit/s is out there for early adopters.
From some quick math I'm guessing it's 256 fiber cable with 122 40gbit/s links using repeaters and a half dozen pairs held in reserve for when a link goes bad.
It could be a few hundred 10gbit/s links over some form of WDM with amplifiers, though I doubt it because of the dispersion problems over this kind of distance.
I don't work with undesea fiber but I can assure you that this is a ton of capacity.
4.8 terabit/s will actually easily carry over 80 million 64kbit/s T0 voice lines, TFSummary is actually on the conservative side.

SHIT (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949452)

I can "lay" a "cable" faster than that...

More reduncancy is good... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949492)

...but it would be nice to have the landings more widely distributed, especially on the US Atlantic coast.

Great Firewall... (1)

garatheus (993376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949582)

Surely the firewalls and censorship that happens in China kind of defeats the purpose of faster connections between the Far East and the USA?

Re:Great Firewall... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949886)

Perhaps that's why the cable between Japan and the US is being laid in the ocean, rather than through China...

Re:Great Firewall... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950006)

I don't know which parallel universe you're from, but in this one Japan isn't part of China.

Re:Great Firewall... (1)

The Cisco Kid (31490) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951140)

You seem to assume that it is impossible that a Chinese ISP might interconnect with a Japanese ISP for transit to the US.

Re:Great Firewall... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951210)

The way the summary says it, it's a Japan-America optic cable. I guess one goal would be to route around such problems.

Not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950274)

that firewall can be used 2 ways. While today, it keeps citizens from seeing the truth, what everybody is missing is that someday down the road, that same 'firewall' will be used to protect China, while they will launch massive cyber attacks against EU, Canada, US, Australia, Mexico, and the rest of the western nations.

Why not run it across the Bering Strait? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949602)

We could link North America and Asia without putting an expensive cable under a lot of water. Or is it cheaper to do that than to make a trench?

intercontinental railway (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949610)

Will there be a ceremonial connection of a golden coupler when the cables meet in the middle?

Obligatory Stephenson Wired article (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949612)

Back in 1996 Neal Stephenson wrote a really excellent article, "Mother Earth Mother Board" in Wired. If you're curious about what it actually takes to wire the world it's a really excellent read.

Paged:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass.html [wired.com]

Single-page:
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass_pr.html [wired.com]

Re:Obligatory Stephenson Wired article (2, Funny)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950052)

So I generally have a pretty good attention span...
But 56 pages, is there a diploma afterwards?

Re:Obligatory Stephenson Wired article (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950418)

C'mon, look at the guy's other books. Cryptonomicon is about 10000 pages. You expect him to fit a conversation about cable into less than 50 pages?

Re:Obligatory Stephenson Wired article (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950088)

I was just purging a bunch of old Wired magazines. And I found this issue. I will save this one for ever!
The issue is a stark contrast to the wimpy magazine that Wired has become. That issue, with Stephenson's long superb article, is almost 300 pages long, more than twice the current issues. The November issue before it was also 300 pages with Bruce Sterling's Burning man article. Such great writing, such massive content. Where is it now?

  Oh how the mighty have fallen !

10,000 km in 10 days! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949660)

That's a fair clip. No wonder fiber beats satellite. A ton of bandwidth, low latency and only ten days to install. A satellite must still take the better part of a day to install from launch at least.

How much of that cost is the cable? (2, Interesting)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949756)

How much of that cost is the cable?

Re:How much of that cost is the cable? (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950096)

How much of that cost is the cable?

http://www.isp-planet.com/business/fiber_price_bol.html [isp-planet.com]

On land rural jobs cost about $15K/mile. On land super-urban jobs cost about $500K/mile. The difference is permits, corruption, kickbacks, etc. Also scaling is important, "one job in Montana" may be hundreds of miles, and "one job in Manhatten" may be measured in feet, but the fixed costs are... fixed... so the cost per mile seems higher on the short jobs.

If you assume underwater fiber costs around as much as the total cost of cheap rural route, the 6200 mile route times 16K/mile equals about $100M. That makes sense, since the whole job is only supposed to cost about $300M.

Repairing fiber is somewhat more difficult than laying fiber because it's time sensitive. But then again they probably charge by the hour anyway. Since a "several day" repair job approaches $10M, if you assume that is 4 days at $10M total, that would be about $2.5M per day. The little row boat they're using is going to take about 40 days to paddle across the pond, 40 days * $2.5M a day conveniently works out to about $100M. That makes sense, since the whole job is only supposed to cost about $300M.

Add in the usual admin overhead, several multimillion dollar executive bonuses, engineering work, station gear at each endpoint, marketing and sales upfront expenses including slashvertisements, booze, coke, etc, I think they could blow somewhat less than $100M on that.

My labor estimate is probably about right for overtime repair work and a bit high for contracted construction work. My estimate for overhead may be a bit high. That means the cost of the cable itself probably is about $125M to $150M.

Megalodon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949870)

They better watch out while laying that cable or they're going to attract the Megalodon.

Copper (1)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949916)

"The cable ... has the theoretical capacity of 7.68 Tbps, but will be set at a capacity of about 4.8 Tbps (supposedly equivalent to about 75 million simultaneous phone calls) during its initial use."

We've come a long way from copper telegraph lines.

Re:Copper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29949960)

Iron. Not copper. The first ones were iron.

Re:Copper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950170)

Yeah, but I don't get the "supposedly equivalent to about 75 million..." in the summary. About? Supposedly? A standard phone line is a DS0; 64kbps. That would fit EXACTLY 75 million times in a 4.8Tbps link!

Relations (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#29949984)

it is projected to increase internet traffic capacity between the two regions by over 20%, a wonderful boost to transpacific relations!

Man, I hate those Japanese! And they hate us too!

(More internet bandwidth)

Suddenly we both love each other! Awww...

I need easier to understand units (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950182)

How many Library of Congress per second does it equal?

BitTorrent (2, Funny)

bernywork (57298) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950292)

And the cable will be full of BitTorrent traffic in 5..4..3...2.. There we go!

Upgrade time again!

20% more spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950518)

Fantastic, now we'll see 20% more spam as a result of this too. Thanks Google.

be careful (1)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950568)

Let's just hope this cable doesn't get run by any dolphins or whales, er I mean cows or chickens.

Re:be careful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29950964)

love the south park reference!

This is Google's Glomar Explorer (1)

turtleshadow (180842) | more than 4 years ago | (#29950894)

I think this is just Google's Glomar Explorer [wikipedia.org] . I'm sure they are not interested at all to be mining all those data packets for intel. This is a complete altruistic - do no evil - venture to improve transatlantic relations

How 70s! let's use hdls instead of 64 voice links (1)

Madman (84403) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951294)

surely using uncompressed telephone calls as a measure of bandwidth is a bit outdated? 4.8Tb is 75 million 64K uncompressed telephone calls. c'mon, get real!

Instead let's measure bandwidth by hdls units, 1 High Definition Lost Season is a pretty impressive measure of bandwidth, and by my reckoning 4.8Tb is about 100 hdls/second. That's a big pipe!

Yea! Faster Far East Outsourcing!!!! (1)

mediis (952323) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951454)

I can't wait for the job postings once this mother is turned up to full!

Can't wait (2, Interesting)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 4 years ago | (#29951708)

Looking forward to this here in Malaysia. Global Transit's HQ is just 200m from my house. When I see the truck pulling the final bit of cable wet and dripping from its long sea voyage, I'll slip the dudes a few bucks to tap a slice off for me.

Seriously, though, this is a country where almost all content of interest is foreign: unlike Japan or Thailand, say, there's no significant local-language content industry. Everyone reads English and/or Chinese and therefore skips straight past the homegrown small-potatoes sites, on to the major international sites (in fact I think most Americans would be surprised how well-integrated Malaysians are into the American view of the web). Every little bit of overseas capacity makes a big difference. Most Malaysian users' home broadband is capped to a measly maximum 4mbps because demand for bandwidth so far outstrips supply.

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