Google dives into underwater investment

Google dives into underwater investment

Search firm will help find undersea cable to keep up with online demands of Asia-Pacific

Google is helping to fund a $300m (£152.2m) undersea network linking the US to Japan as part of its strategy for handling increasing demand for its services from the Asia-Pacific region.

It is collaborating with five regional telecoms operators ­Global Transit, Pacnet, KDDI Corp, Bharti Airtel and Singapore Telecommunications ­to support growing levels of web traffic between Asia and the US.

The Unity project will deploy fibre-optic cable over a 10,000km (6,250 mile) distance, with a potential data rate of 7.68Tbit/s, and should be up and running by the first quarter of 2010.

Submarine cables are playing a growing role in relaying large volumes of data between the continents. But such cables are not without risk.

Earlier this month internet connections across India and the Middle-East were disrupted when sub-sea connections were cut. The exact cause of the damage is still unknown.

Google is particularly keen on protecting traffic from China and Korea. Revenue from growing Asia-Pacific markets depends on fast, reliable web access, particularly for nascent services such as software on demand.

“The strategic scenario is that if there is not enough bandwidth available to access online services, users could go back to using on-premises desktop software instead, which would be a huge blow for Google,” said David Mitchell, senior vice president of analyst Ovum.

The search firm has not invested in building network capacity to protect its online traffic elsewhere in the world. But it is rumoured to be considering a bid for US wireless broadband.