TE Subcom says it has begun work on the marine survey in both US and Irish territorial waters for Emerald Networks' proposed transatlantic cable system. When complete, the cable will connect Long Island with Belmullet on the west coast of Ireland, terrestrial rings on both sides on the Atlantic, a key extension up to Iceland, and a future extension down to Portugal.
When plans for the Emerald Express network first went public two and a half years ago, I was a bit skeptical that it would get off the drawing board. But we're now one year away from its projected completion date, and it's looking rather concrete now. While the project has certainly evolved since then, the money is apparently in place, the landing party agreements worked out, and they've lined up both Vodafone and CenturyLink as anchor customers.
At 100x100Gbps on each of four fiber pairs, the new cable will certainly put a whole lot of potential new transatlantic connectivity into play. The market has spent the last decade burning through the giant pile of excess capacity left over from the dot com crash. However, for a few years now it has lived solely off of equipment upgrades with an occasional worry about who would take the risk to build the next cable in a historically tough business.
The answer turned out to be Icelandic and Irish interests, assuming nothing derails Emeralds plans from here. In Iceland's case, for a while it has been clear that a big driving force here has been the North Atlantic island nation's desire for better connectivity that can unleash its geothermal power sources in the datacenter/cloud market. And the Irish bandwidth market has been looking for more direct connectivity for a while now, having long outgrown its former place as an afterthought that must be reached through London. Hibernia saw that also, which is why they added a landing in Northern Ireland a few years back, and Emerald is hoping to move in on a similar opportunity from the west.
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