Google partners with other firms to boost Internet speeds in Asia

The search giant is investing in a $300 million underwater cable -- the latest in its business efforts to improve Web connectivity for users.

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The undersea cable's route NEC

To rev up Internet speeds, Google is heading under water again.

The search giant announced on Monday that it is one of six companies investing in a $300 million undersea cable that aims to boost the speed of Web connectivity in Asia.

The cable, nicknamed "Faster," will connect major West Coast cities -- including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Portland -- to Chikura and Shima, two coastal cities in Japan. The connection will run 60 terabits per second, which is about 10 million times faster than the standard cable modem.

The other companies teaming up on the cable are Asian wireless and telecommunications companies: China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, and SingTel. The project's main supplier will be the IT services and products company NEC. Construction of the cable will begin immediately, and is slated to be ready for use by the second quarter of 2016.

"'Faster' will make the Internet, well, faster and more reliable for our users in Asia," wrote Urs Hölzle, Google's senior vice president for technical infrastructure.

This isn't the first time Google has invested in underwater cables. The company backed another cable routed to Japan in 2008 with "Unity" and another in 2011 that connects Japan and Southeast Asian countries including the Philippines and Thailand.

For Google, the push to improve connectivity is aligned with its business strategy around its core services.

"At Google we want our products to be fast and reliable," wrote Hölzle. "That requires a great network infrastructure, whether it's for the more than a billion Android users or developers building products on Google Cloud Platform."

The company has made similar efforts with its ambitious "moon shot" projects. An initiative called Google Fiber also aims to speed up Internet connectivity and is for now available in limited markets, including Austin, Texas, and Provo, Utah.

Google has also invested in attempts to expand Internet access -- not only speed them up. The mission of a project called Loon is to connect rural areas to the Web by beaming down Wi-Fi via high-altitude giant balloons. The company has also offered free Wi-Fi to areas around its offices in New York City and Mountain View, California. Google is even one of several companies vying to turn New York City's pay phone booths into free Wi-Fi hubs.

 

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