Most Influential Projects 2020

19 Curie


PMI #MIP2020 | Curie

For improving bandwidth in South America

Forget the cloud. Most data actually moves in the ocean via underwater cables. And it’s moving faster in South America after Google successfully installed Curie, a submerged cable stretching from Los Angeles, California, USA to Valparíso, Chile. Roughly 10,500 kilometers (6,524 miles) long, Curie has been delivering 72 terabits per second of much-needed bandwidth to South America since late 2019.

Getting the cable in place was an odyssey. Google leaders first assessed trying to scale bandwidth via existing cables, but the option proved cost-prohibitive. A new subsea cable, though, would be the first to connect to Chile in 19 years, which meant the Google team needed to surmount new permits and processes with a swath of skeptical Chilean stakeholders.

“We set up a workshop with local authorities to really inform them about why this was important for the country, what were the benefits, what were the risks,” Tamar Colodenco, public policy and government relations manager for Southern Cone, Google, said in a company video. “We really wanted them to feel like they were part of this process—and they were.”

Google partner SubCom manufactured and laid the cable, finally landing in Chile in April 2019. A SubCom team of divers and engineers deployed in boats, personal watercraft and construction machinery to receive the cable, splicing it to the terrestrial infrastructure and then testing and burying it. By the time Curie was installed and tested in November 2019, results were positive enough for Google to declare it would be extending a branch to Panama.

Unlike most cable megaprojects, Google funded Curie completely on its own, no doubt hoping to bolster its presence across Latin America. And that’s only part of the company’s US$47 billion effort to futureproof its infrastructure. It has two more subsea cable projects in the works: Equiano, connecting Africa with Europe; and Dunant, connecting France and the United States.

Related Sponsors and Organizations

  • Google
  • SubCom