With 26.2 Terabits Per Second, The MAREA Transatlantic Cable Breaks Internet Speed Record


MAREA cable, considered to the world’s highest capacity subsea cable with a total theoretical capacity of 160 Tbps, was theorized to be capable of speeds that are 20 percent faster than originally possible, according to the team of researchers from Infinera that conducted the test.

“A new experiment has achieved a record fiber optic cable capacity of 26.2 terabits per second across more than 6,000 kilometers of the Marea transatlantic fiber optic cable,” announced the Optical Fiber Conference and Exhibition in a press release.

This represents a massive improvement on each pair of the cable’s eight optic fibers.

According to both Facebook and Microsoft that helped created the cable, they believe that the increase should help meet the growing needs for internet and cloud services.

The cable, operated by Telxius, that spans between Bilbao in Spain and Virginia Beach, Virginia, and also beyond to network hubs in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, has since become popular sites for new data centers.

MAREA cable

The significance of the announcement is twofold, according to Infinera.

According to Geoff Bennett, the director of solutions and technology at Infinera, they achieved this number by implementing “multiple wavelengths on a single optical chip, so that we could squeeze the individual wavelengths closer together, and get more wavelengths on the fiber," and making "each wavelengths is transmitted as a set of subcarriers that also allows tighter spacing."

So, while the pipe remained the same, they increased how much data could be sent through it in a given amount of time.

Because it was demonstrated using existing cables, Infinera shows that the upgrade can potentially be made without having to spend hundreds of millions on laying new cables.

However, the transfer speeds of the original 20 Tbps were previously thought possible on the line, still far exceeds the average transfer rate of the MAREA cable that is only at 9.5 Tbps.

This suggests that there are more practical hurdles yet to be overcome.

MAREA that means “tide” in Spanish, is the first subsea cable connecting Virginia and Spain.

Completed in 2017 and been in-service since April 2018, MAREA is designed with eight fiber pairs using an open design system.

Facebook and Microsoft jointly designed MAREA as the first Open Cable System in the world, designing the cable to be as future proof as possible. What this means, the MAREA cable can evolve as technology changes and demands increase for more data and higher speeds.

Here, the flexibility means that the system allows easier upgrading of the cable and its equipment whenever compatible newer technology is present.

Telxius later joined as the thrid party of MAREA consortium, operating and managing the MAREA cable system. TE SubCom is the turn key supplier for MAREA cable system.

According to FCC documents, Facebook owns two fiber pairs in MAREA, and Microsoft also owns two fiber pairs. Telxius owned the remaining 4 pairs, before Amazon acquired two pairs on an IRU basis.