Meta Platforms’ subsidiary, Edge Cable Holdings USA, LLC, has applied for a license to construct and operate the Anjana subsea cable system. This is a 4,425-mile (7,121-kilometer) private fiber-optic network connecting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Santander, Spain. The company plans to begin construction in August 2023 and expects the system to be operational by the fourth quarter of 2024.
The Anjana subsea cable system, which will not operate on a common-carrier basis, is designed to address the growing demand for capacity between North America and Europe. It aims to replace aging trans-Atlantic systems and enhance network resilience by establishing new and diverse landings. To achieve this, the Anjana subsea cable will add a total theoretical capacity of approximately 480 terabits per second (Tbps) across its trans-Atlantic route.
Anjana Subsea Cable – An Overview
Meta Platforms’ new subsea cable, called the Anjana System, is a private fiber-optic submarine cable network. The company has applied for a license to land and operate this cable, with construction (cable laying) projected to commence in U.S. territory as early as August 2023. The target ready-for-service date (RFS) is set for the fourth quarter of 2024.
As a non-common-carrier system, the Anjana subsea cable is primarily intended for Meta’s own internal capacity needs. However, the company also plans to potentially provide dark fiber to wholesale and enterprise customers. If Meta were to offer capacity to other carriers or enterprises, the agreements would take the form of individually-negotiated indefeasible rights of use (IRUs).
Geographical Reach of the Cable
The Anjana subsea cable will connect Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the United States, and Santander in Spain.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina Landing Point
In Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the beach manhole will be situated in Myrtle Beach State Park (33.650743°, -78.927296°) and the cable landing station will be located at 1401 Howard Street (33.674439°, -78.944447°). Notably, this cable landing station is owned by DC BLOX, a data center provider focused on the southeastern United States.
Meta will enter into an initial 25-year lease with DC BLOX for colocation space for power feed equipment and will retain operational authority over the Anjana subsea cable landing facilities, providing direction to DC BLOX in all matters relating to the Anjana system.
It’s also worth mentioning that Google’s Firmina subsea cable, spanning 9,020 miles (14,517 kilometers) and connecting Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina, will also land at DC BLOX’s cable landing station at 1401 Howard Street.
Santander, Spain Landing Point
In Santander, Spain, the beach manhole will be situated at Playa Virgen del Mar (43.476964°, -3.876923°) and the cable landing station will be located at Calle Corceño, 37, 39012 (43.463087°, -3.857289°). Notably, the cable landing station is owned by Telxius, a provider of subsea cable infrastructure in Europe and the Americas, controlled by Telefónica and Pontegadea.
This intercontinental link is poised to meet the increasing demand for capacity between North America and Europe. It will also provide replacement capacity for trans-Atlantic systems that have been, or will soon be, retired. Moreover, the Anjana System will add new and diverse landings in South Carolina and Spain, enhancing geographic diversity and network resilience.
Further south in Spain, Meta Platforms is also developing a 3.2 million square foot (300,000 square meter) data center campus near Talavera de la Reina, a city situated approximately 78 miles (125 kilometers) southwest of Madrid, Spain.
Key Features and Specifications
The Anjana subsea cable is designed as a high-fiber-count system that deploys space division multiplexing (SDM) technology. SDM is a method of transmitting multiple data signals simultaneously over the same fiber optic cable by using different spatial paths within the cable, thereby significantly increasing its data-carrying capacity.
The Anjana subsea cable will consist of a single trunk segment between Myrtle Beach and Santander, spanning a total length of approximately 4,425 miles (7,121 kilometers). The system will feature 24 fiber pairs, each with a design capacity of approximately 20 terabits per second (Tbps) using current technology.
While the initial lit capacity of the system is yet to be decided, the total theoretical capacity of the Anjana subsea cable would be approximately 480 Tbps – nearly half a petabit per second (Pbps).
The Anjana subsea cable will compete with a number of established systems both on the U.S.-Spain route and broader U.S.-European routes. The path from the U.S. to Spain, which Anjana intends to cover, is currently served by the Grace Hopper and MAREA systems, both of which will be primary competitors for Anjana.
Beyond this specific route, the Anjana subsea cable will face competition on a broader scale across the U.S.-European corridors. Here, a variety of systems already exist, namely AEC-1, Amitié, Apollo, Atlantic Crossing-1, Dunant, EXA North and South, FLAG Atlantic-1, TGN Atlantic, and Yellow.
Role of the Anjana Subsea Cable in Global Connectivity
The Anjana subsea cable system proposed by Meta Platforms is poised to play a significant role in enhancing global connectivity.
- Improved Data Transmission Speeds: the Anjana subsea cable, deploying space division multiplexing (SDM) technology, is expected to boost data transmission speeds dramatically. With 24 fiber pairs, the cable represents a 50% improvement in fiber count over the 16 fiber pair systems (e.g., Grace Hopper) generally available today. This development allows cable owners to construct subsea cables with superior traffic capacity while reducing the cost per bit of the wet plant
- Enhanced Internet Connectivity: the Anjana subsea cable is designed to meet the rising demand for trans-Atlantic data capacity. As older systems retire, new ones like Anjana are required to ensure continuous, reliable, and high-speed internet connectivity. The system is expected to provide a substantial bandwidth boost, catering to the ever-growing needs of global internet users
- Geographic Diversity and Network Resilience: by introducing new and diverse landings in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, in the United States, and Santander, Spain, the Anjana subsea cable will increase geographic diversity, thereby reducing the risk of network disruptions. This diversity will enhance trans-Atlantic network resilience, ensuring consistent and reliable connectivity between North America and Europe
Role of the Anjana Subsea Cable in Meta’s Strategy
Subsea cables like Anjana play a critical role in Meta Platforms’ business strategy by enhancing the speed, reliability, and capacity of data transmission across its global network. This directly affects the performance and user experience of its services, including Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.
- Improved User Experience: high-speed data transmission enabled by the Anjana subsea cable will contribute to faster loading times and more seamless interactions on Meta’s platforms. In particular, when users in North America and Europe share photos and videos, send messages, or make video calls, the data has to travel thousands of miles via undersea cables
- Redundancy and Resilience: having its own network of subsea cables allows Meta to ensure redundancy and resilience in its data infrastructure. If one route or cable has an issue, data can be rerouted through other cables, reducing the risk of service outages. For example, the Anjana subsea cable will add redundancy to Meta’s presence in other trans-Atlantic subsea cables, including MAREA, Havfrue/AEC-2, and Grace Hopper
- Future-Proofing and Scalability: as the number of internet users grows and existing users demand more data-intensive services like the metaverse, the global demand for data transmission will continue to increase. By investing in its own high-capacity subsea cables, Meta can anticipate this future demand. To this end, it is expected that international data usage across the Atlantic will expand twenty-fold between 2021 and 2035
- Cost Efficiency and Control: while the upfront cost of laying subsea cables is high, owning and operating these cables can be more cost-effective in the long term compared to leasing capacity from other providers. This is especially true for a company like Meta, which transfers vast amounts of data daily. Also, owning its own subsea cables gives Meta more control over its data infrastructure
Stakeholders Involved in the Anjana Subsea Cable
Meta Platforms’ Anjana subsea cable is set to be manufactured by NEC Corporation’s subsidiary, OCC, laid on the ocean floor by Orange Marine’s René Descartes, with legal and regulatory services provided by HWG LLP.
- System Supplier: NEC Corporation, through its subsidiary OCC (Ocean Cable & Communications) Corporation, will manufacture the Anjana subsea cable
- System Installer: Orange Marine will utilize the René Descartes, a vessel specifically designed for subsea cable laying, to deploy and maintain the Anjana subsea cable system on the ocean floor
- Legal and Regulatory: HWG LLP serves as legal counsel for Meta Platforms