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Google has announced Project Topaz, a fiber optic cable that will for the first time connect Canada to Japan. Once complete, Topaz will run from Vancouver to the small town of Port Alberni on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and across the Pacific Ocean to the prefectures of Mie and Ibaraki 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” stated Bikash Koley, VP and Head of Google Global Networking and Head of Technology and Strategy, Google Cloud for Telecommunications.
Google is spearheading construction of the project, joined by a number of local partners in Japan and Canada to deliver the full Topaz subsea cable system. Other networks and internet service providers will be able to benefit from the cable’s additional capacity, whether for their own use or to provide to third parties. Similar to other cables Google has built, Topaz will exchange fiber pairs with partners who have systems along similar routes. This is a longstanding practice in the industry that strengthens the intercontinental network lattice for network operators, for Google, and for users around the world.
The width of a garden hose, the Topaz cable will house 16 fiber pairs, for a total capacity of 240 Terabits per second. It includes support for Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS), an efficient and software-defined way to carve up the spectrum on an optical fiber pair for flexibility in routing and advanced resilience. “We’re proud to bring WSS to Topaz and to see the technology is being implemented widely across the submarine cable industry” added Koley.
While Topaz is the first trans-Pacific fiber cable to land on the West Coast of Canada, it’s not the first communication cable to connect to Vancouver Island. In the 1960s, the Commonwealth Pacific Cable System (COMPAC) was a copper undersea cable linking Vancouver with Honolulu (United States), Sydney (Australia), and Auckland (New Zealand), expanding high-quality international phone connectivity. Today, COMPAC is no longer in service but its legacy lives on. The original cable landing station in Vancouver — the facility where COMPAC made landfall on Canadian soil — has been upgraded to fit the needs of modern fiber optics and will house the eastern end of the Topaz cable.
“Traditional and treaty rights, and local communities, are deeply important to our infrastructure projects. The Topaz cable is built alongside the traditional territories of the Hupacasath, Maa-nulth, and Tseshaht, and we have consulted with and partnered with these First Nations every step of the way” observed Koley.
“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” stated Tseshaht First Nation – 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. 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.” Said Chief Charlie Cootes, President of the Maa-nulth Treaty Society
With the addition of Topaz, Google presently has investments in 20 subsea cable projects. This includes Curie, Dunant, Equiano, Firmina and Grace Hopper, and consortium cables like Blue, Echo, Havfrue and Raman — all connecting 29 cloud regions, 88 zones, 146 network edge locations across more than 200 countries and territories.