Sea port to net port: Virginia Beach transatlantic cable brings jobs and hope

Courtesy Microsoft

Daija Marrow | Staff Writer

The neighboring city of Virginia Beach is now known by the tech community as a digital sea port. This means that it is a starting point for the 4,000-mile wire. This cable is called a transatlantic cable - a wire that runs through the Atlantic ocean and connects different countries. Virginia Beach is home to three - two to Brazil and the most recently laid cable to Spain called Marea. The Hampton Roads area is the only region with transatlantic cables on the United States east coast between Maryland and Georgia.

Marea is also the highest capacity fiber optic subsea cable ever laid in the Atlantic Ocean and is the first cable to link Virginia to Spain. Only 19 digital ports spot the east coast - 80 percent of them being in Florida and New York. These ports are landing points for the cables. The specific landing point for Marea is believed to be the Camp Pendella Military Base. From there the cable goes out into sea.

A submarine sea transatlantic cable takes approximately three years to lay in a long, expensive process.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on third party companies that provide the equipment, manpower and intelligence to skillfully lay the 100 million pound fiber optic mass. The cord is carefully buried across the ocean floor, crossing over other, already laid cables, and connects one country to the other.

This first subsea cable was suggested in the 1850’s with various failed attempts. When the first success was finally made, the longest amount of time a message took to get from England to America was 19 hours opposed the the routined 19 days. To this day, physical connections are the most efficient way to transfer data from one place to another. Being the quickest laid cable, Marea is a popular advancement in the world of technology settled in Virginia Beach.

Being chosen as the destination for this connection to Spain will be a benefit for the area. Facebook, Microsoft and Telxius have partnered together to fund Marea. With it, they will each benefit. Facebook can strengthen its handling of extreme traffic within its Messenger, Instagram, and Snapchat apps while Microsoft expands the extent of its software programs such as the cloud, xbox live, and 365 Office.

Although the cable will not be activated until 2018, it has already brought attention to Virginia Beach. As a result of the Project, Sanjo, a primary metal producer from Spain, has built its first American headquarters in Virginia Beach. The CEO explained that the cable will make communication to the United States more smooth and gives them a better incentive to expand. Amazon is also looking to build another headquarters somewhere in the country and Virginia Beach hopes that this progression will sway the e-commerce giant to the city.

The high expense involved with creating and laying a cable makes them uncommon.

One reason Virginia Beach was chosen is because of the damage done in communication with England following Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the east coast. For at least an hour, cell, internet and data services with England were lost.

Subsea cables greatly reduce that possibility. The most likely chance of the cord being destroyed is if it is split by the pressure of the water or if another country cuts it from fear spying. Both of these possibilities are nearly impossible in this day and age. Virginia Beach is also a popular port in close proximity with Northern Virginia. NoVa is one of the main internet hubs in the country because of the Pentagon, White House and more. They are strategically placed where they are most useful, hence the high volume of cables in New York and Florida. Virginia is now proudly on that list as well.