The undersea communications cable will contain 16 fibre pairs and is capable of speeds up to 240 Terabits per second. (Google photo)

The undersea communications cable will contain 16 fibre pairs and is capable of speeds up to 240 Terabits per second. (Google photo)

Google plans transpacific undersea cable to link B.C. and Japan

The project, dubbed Topaz, will be completed in 2023

Google has announced a project to connect Canada and Japan with an undersea fibre optic cable called Topaz.

The cable is the width of a garden hose and contains 16 fibre pairs that are capable of speeds up to 240 Terabits per second. Once it’s completed, Topaz will connect Vancouver and Port Alberni to Mie and Ibaraki prefectures in Japan.

“We expect the cable to be ready for service in 2023, not only delivering low-latency access to Search, Gmail and YouTube, Google Cloud, and other Google services, but also increasing capacity to the region for a variety of network operators in both Japan and Canada,” the company said in a statement.

Google is working with local partners in B.C. and Japan to help complete the project, including the Hupacasath, Maa-nulth, and Tseshaht First Nations.

“Tseshaht is very proud of this collaboration and our partnership with Google, who has been very respectful and thoughtful in its engagement with our Nation. That’s how we carry ourselves and that’s how we want business to carry themselves in our territory,” said Tseshaht Elected Chief Councillor-Ken Watts.

“The five First Nations of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society are pleased that we have concluded an agreement with Google Canada and have consented to the installation of a new, high-speed fiber optic cable through our traditional territories,” said Chief Charlie Cootes, President of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society.

“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. 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. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Google Canada.”

Though this will be the first trans-pacific cable to connect Canada to Japan, it won’t be the first communications cable for Vancouver Island. Back in the 1960s the Commonwealth Pacific Cable System connected Vancouver Island to Honolulu, Sydney Australia and Auckland New Zealand.

The cable is no longer in service, but Google has upgraded and repurposed the original cable landing station in Vancouver to meet the needs of the Topaz project.

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