Va Beach Snags Third Trans-Atlantic Cable

Route of proposed South Atlantic Express International data cable. Image credit: Virginian-Pilot

South Atlantic Express International Ltd. plans to build a high-speed data cable to connect South Africa with Virginia Beach. The third trans-Atlantic cable terminating in Hampton Road, it would provide yet another stimulus to Virginia’s burgeoning data center industry.

As a bonus, ACA International will relocate its headquarters from Northern Virginia to Virginia Beach. The project could bring 200 high-tech jobs to the city, including software engineers, data analysts, and cyber-security professionals, according to the cable company’s local partner, ACA International. Reports the Virginian-Pilot:

The announcement of a third cable comes on the heels of the completion of Marea – Microsoft and Facebook’s first subsea cable connecting Virginia Beach to Spain. Marea’s transmissions are “more than 16 million times faster than the average home internet connection, with the capability to stream 71 million high-definition videos simultaneously,” according to Microsoft.

A second cable, Brusa, is under construction, and will connect Virginia Beach to South America.

This is great news for Hampton Roads, which desperately needs to diversify its economy away the defense industry. I’m certainly no expert on the data center industry, but a third trans-Atlantic connection, which will also create high-speed data links to Nigeria and Brazil, could help other Virginia localities in their competition to lure new data centers. Virginia has one of the densest clusters in the country of high-capacity cable, but until recently it has not had direct connections overseas.

Let’s say I was a cloud provider wanting to serve the market in Brazil, Nigeria or South Africa. Would I rather locate my data center in Capetown, Lagos, Forteleza… or Virginia Beach, where (a) IT skills are abundant, (b) I could plug into one of the the premier land-line fiber-optic cable networks in the world, (c) there is a reliable, competitively priced and increasingly green source of electricity, and (d) the business climate is favorable and the political system stable?

Sounds like a no-brainer to me. Hopefully, Virginia Beach will see many more data centers coming its way.

(Hat tip: Paul Yoon)

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3 responses to “Va Beach Snags Third Trans-Atlantic Cable”

  1. LarrytheG Avatar

    A Win-win would be to power those data centers with Solar and/or offshore wind and invite high tech companies like Amazon to take advantage of both!

  2. Acbar Avatar

    The electric load profile of a data center is driven by heat — getting rid of it, that is. It’s basically air conditioning, and some of that has to run 24/7, but the worst heat gain is during the day so solar power generation would be a good fit. Not a perfect fit, as the heat continues after the sun sets, but a good fit nonetheless.

    I’m more excited to see the tech growth in Hampton Roads. Tech attracts tech, of all kinds, and having that cable hub there is good for Virginia, as well as eastern NC (the Research Triangle area).

  3. and we’re supposed to these solar farms where?

    Its not like we have loads of land. The land that is here is farmland or is supposed to remain rural. If they put it in the Franklin area, Southampton County, that would help them.

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