Google installing first-of-its-kind undersea cable connecting Vancouver Island and Japan for faster service


Google has announced it will be installing a first-of-its-kind undersea fibre-optic cable to connect Canada and Asia, running through Vancouver Island.

Google says the investment into the first-ever subsea fibre-optic cable between Canada and Asia is to allow faster access to services such as Gmail and YouTube when it ultimately begins service in 2023.

The cable, which is called Topaz, will run from Vancouver to Port Alberni and then across the Pacific Ocean to the prefectures of Mie and Ibaraki in Japan.

Google is spearheading the construction of the project but will also be linking up with a number of local partners on either side of the Pacific Ocean in order to complete the task. Once finished, the tech giant says that other network and internet service providers will be able to benefit from the additional capacity of Topaz, whether for their own use or to provide to third parties.

The undersea fibre cable is about the width of a garden hose and will house 16 fibre pairs that will stretch across the floor of the Pacific Ocean, offering a total capacity of 340 Terabits per second.

Google says part of the project has involved consultation and partnership with First Nations and the cable will be built alongside the traditional territories of the Hupacasath, Maa-nulth, and Tseshaht.

The cable runs through Tseshaht First Nation territory in the Alberni inlet. Tseshaht Chief Ken Watts says they were consulted from the beginning, over two years ago.

“They really wanted to hear from our title and rights perspective, what impacts might happen from the cable itself so we had a lot of discussion about it,” Watts told CHEK News. “Our community has an economic fishery up and down this river and the Alberni Inlet so it was really great to have those conversations right away before the work begun.”

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“Google’s respect towards our Nation is appreciated and has good energy behind it,” added Hupacasath First Nation’s Elected Chief Councillor, Brandy Lauder.

President of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society, Chief Charlie Cootes, echoed those same sentiments saying he is proud that a consented agreement has been reached with Google Canada for the installation of Topaz.

“This agreement, in which both Google Canada and our Nations benefit, is based on respect for our constitutionally protected treaty and Aboriginal rights and enhances the process of reconciliation,” said Chief Cootes in a statement. “We would also like to acknowledge the sensitivity that Google Canada expressed during our talks in regard to the pain and trauma experienced by our people as a result of residential school experience.”

The cable will be able to transmit a lot of information.

“That cable can transmit 340 terabits of data per second, enough to stream a typical Youtube video in 4K 4.5 million times simultaneously,” stated a Google promotional video.

The undersea cable project is expected to be completed and operating by next year.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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