It stretches 4,000 miles (6,600km) across the Atlantic ocean from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Bilbao in northern Spain. The cable contains eight pairs of fiber-optic threads wrapped in copper. It can stream 71 million HD videos simultaneously, more than 16 million times faster than the average home internet connection. The construction began in August 2016. According to Microsoft, it’s the highest-capacity connection of more than a dozen trans-Atlantic subsea cables.
For Microsoft, the cable will help it improve its various cloud services, such as Azure, Office 365, Skype and Xbox Live. Facebook says it will help it improve the “increasingly data-intensive services” that it provides through WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram. Marea is a powerful example of the important role the private sector has to play in connecting the world. Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, called Marea “a connection that will bring the next billion users of the internet—in Africa, in the Middle East, across Southern Europe—closer to those of us who live in the United States. This is part of the infrastructure of the 21st century.”