Officials discuss progress of subsea cable to connect Virginia, Spain

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia leaders gathered with telecommunications officials in Williamsburg to talk about a subsea cable to connect Virginia and Spain.

The cable — which is named Marea — spans from Virginia Beach to Bilbao on Spain’s northeast coast.

Officials say the 4,000 mile cable will allow for greater connectivity between the two countries. It is also expected to bring economic development and job growth to the Hampton Roads region.

Officials say the cable will allow for greater connectivity not only between the two countries but the rest of the United States, Europe and countries in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

“This is part of the infrastructure of the 21st century. This is going to create opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic,” says Brad Smith, who is the president of Microsoft.

The cable is expected to transfer 160 terabits of data per second. That’s more than 16 million times faster than the average home internet connection. Ideas for the project came about after Superstorm Sandy disrupted connectivity along the East Coast.

Marea is expected to not only bring a stability to the digital infrastructure but also economic development and job growth the Hampton Roads. It is also expected to bring economic development and job growth to the Hampton Roads region.

Virginia Beach mayor Wil Sessoms says the city is ready to move forward digitally and is making American history once again after the first English settlers landed in the area.

“Now 410 years later, we poised to become America’s new digitial gateway as Bilbao becomes our counterpart in Spain,” says Mayor Sessoms.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe as well as Democratic senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner traveled to Williamsburg for Friday’s event. All three say the cable will move continue to move Virginia forward digitally.

Senator Kaine says that Virginia was chosen, not just for its long relationship with Spain, but because 70 percent of the internet’s traffic flows through the state.

“This hub in Virginia Beach will allow information to be disseminated to the U.S.,” says Kaine.

Mayor Sessoms says the city is working with Microsoft to bring affordable internet services to parts of Virginia Beach, including rural areas. Microsoft will continue to work not just in Hampton Roads but throughout the Commonwealth.

“We’re committed to not just creating jobs here and connecting data but connecting the last mile so that every single person who lives in the Commonwealth of Virginia gets the connectivity they need, the broadband they deserve, and the opportunity for a better future,” Smith says.

Sessoms also says he hopes the cable will attract businesses such as Amazon to the area. The cable is expected to be up and running in early 2018.