back to article Catch of the day... for Google, anyway: Transatlantic Cornwall cable hauled ashore

Google's newest transatlantic subsea cable has finally been hauled ashore in Cornwall, more than a year after the megacorp revealed plans to connect the UK and US. The arrival of the Grace Hopper cable – named after the computer science pioneer – brings the 16-fibre pair (32 fibres) Google-funded cable to Bude on the …

  1. cawfee

    Important Questions

    How has it taken 2+ months to pull that last bit of cable ashore? Has no-one heard of a harpoon gun?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Important Questions

      Covid... someone tested positive and the cable had to go into quarantine

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Important Questions

      I here the traffic jams in cornwall in summer are quite bad.

      It seems everyone who lives there owns a caravan or a Range Rover - or both

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Important Questions

      > How has it taken 2+ months to pull that last bit of cable ashore? Has no-one heard of a harpoon gun?

      Harpoon gun humour notwithstanding, you may recall that back in the Summer there was a bit of chinwag going on just down the coast at Carbis Bay. Perhaps final surveys etc were held up in case they detected Biden's nuclear powered escape submarine lurking around?

    4. Imhotep

      Re: Important Questions

      Speaking as an authority on subaquatic cable - I ran cable through the wet basement of my house so all our rooms were connected - wire coat hanger would have been the way to go.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Important Questions

        Hopefully they remembered to pull a bit of string through - so if they need to run any extra cables in future it's easier

    5. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Important Questions

      Killing time until the expansion at the neighbouring GCHQ listening post is completed?

      // just asking questions...

  2. Wally Dug

    The Rain in Spain

    "Google plans to launch a cloud region in Spain".

    Surely that will affect tourism n the area?

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Re: The Rain in Spain

      And agriculture.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: The Rain in Spain

      Will the cloud stay mainly on the plane ?

      1. Wally Dug

        Re: The Rain in Spain

        Bit plane or backplane?

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: The Rain in Spain


  3. sebacoustic

    cable effort

    wow... I spend the best part of last week digging in 65m of armoured cat6 plus twin-and-earth from the house to the new garden building... but mostly a solo effort so I feel the achievement is about on-par.

    1. TDog

      Re: cable effort

      Couldn't you just have built the new garden building nearer? Or hired a mini-digger<g>

    2. a pressbutton

      Re: cable effort

      What was wrong with a cantenna

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: cable effort

        Cantennas are not well suited to getting mains power to one's shed, and if you're digging anyway wired network is by far the better choice.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Re: cable effort

          Cantennas are not well suited to getting mains power to one's shed

          And if you did manage it, it would be a hazard to local bird life flying round the garden.

    3. Potty Professor Bronze badge

      Re: cable effort

      Back in 1983 I was building a new garage/workshop in the garden of our newly acquired three bed 1930s semi. As I knew I would need power, etc. for the lathe and other machine tools, I laid a trunking made out of old scaffold poles, loosely connected together end to end with aluminium tubing sleeves, and containing a rope pull through. After concreting the base and building the garage, I used the rope to pull through a steel wire armoured cable, a phone line, and a 15mm water pipe. The cable carried power for the sockets via an RCCB and lighting via a separate fuse, the water pipe supplied an outside tap in the garden, and the phone line carried an extension phone. Pulling it all through was a bit fraught, I borrowed one of those 'Chinese Finger Trap' cable pullers from work and connected the rope, and my next door neighbour did the pulling whilst I wrangled the nest of pipes, etc. in the cupboard under the stairs to ensure they entered the conduit in an orderly fashion. As far as I know, they are still functional, at least, they were when I moved out in 2017.

      1. Mog_X

        Re: cable effort

        The house I grew up in was also a 1930s semi, with the floorboards between the junction box under the stairs to the back door running perpendicular.

        My dad wanted to run power out to the garage and was trying to work out how to do it, when our cat stated nosing around the hole.

        After a lightbulb moment, he tied a string to the cat's collar, took up a single extra floorboard by the back door and my mum opened a tin of tuna at the other.

        Cue the cat making a quick trip under the floor, after which the cable was connected to the string and pulled through.

        Cat enjoyed the tuna.

      2. Chris Evans

        Re: cable effort

        My last house was built in the 1950's and had a conduit from the loft to the lounge right next to the TV. It was for a radio ariel in the loft. The diameter was just too small for two standard sized satellite cables so I found some slightly smaller diameter cables and F type connectors. I pulled the two satellite cables, a CAT 5 and a telephone lead down all in one go. My son was feeding it in in the loft and I pulled at the bottom. Very effective until the house was knocked down three years ago.

        In my current house the satellite cables are fed into the loft and then along with network cables they go down through the airing cupboard which abuts a wall above the integral garage, so cables go into the garage and then back into the lounge. As we did a lot of work before moving in (new ceilings, floor boards up for pipe work etc) I was able to run network cables to every room. I've not yet had time to run the power and network cables to the brick sheds.

  4. Stumpy

    Man, that's disappointing. When I think of undersea cables, I still envisage an armoured cable that's several inches in diameter. Not that piddly little thing they've hauled ashore.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I was thinking the same. I've been involved with a few undersea cables and all were a lot thicker once the armouring was on. They were for the North Sea so had to withstand trawls (and even burying or rock dumping meant they needed a fair amount of protection) - I don't suppose the risks are the same under the Atlantic but, even so, that looks quite lightweight. My first thought was that it was just the dragline in the photos. The actual signal cores would be quite small and I guess the cable technology has moved on. Besides, the thinner you can make it, the more you can spool, so less expensive to install. It comes down to balancing risk and cost.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        And to protect it from sharks - without laser beams

        Sharks apparently are real basterds when it comes to cables

        1. NetBlackOps

          So the sea-based equivalent of squirrels?

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Worse, sharks think the electrical signal in the cable is the twitching muscles of an injured fish.

            So its like covering your cables in nutty squirrel food.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    "Once all plumbed in, the cable is expected to be able to carry around 340Tbps of capacity – that's about the same as 17.5 million people streaming 4K videos all at the same time."

    Well that'll please all the London wankers holidaying in Cornwall no end.

    "More TOWIE Maxwell?"

    "Oh indeed Phillipa!"

    1. SundogUK Silver badge

      Stop "all the London wankers holidaying in Cornwall" and Cornwall would go bankrupt pretty much instantly.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Or it'd come down to a price point that the rest of the UK can enjoy.

    2. Falmari Silver badge

      No gain for Sennen

      @wolfetone "Well that'll please all the London wankers holidaying in Cornwall no end."

      Not really there will be no benefit for Cornwall's internet.

      My mum lived in Sennen and those cables probable run right past her front door just like FA:1.

      When they laid FA:1 around 2201 they dug up the A30 as far as her road. Did a right and dug up her road for the last 1/2 mile to the bay. At that time she could not get a decent internet service not even basic as she was too far from the exchange.

      After the work was finished could she decent internet? No still too bloody far from the exchange.

      With the transatlantic cable running within 7 meters of her front door, she could not get speeds much better than dial-up.

  6. Will Godfrey Silver badge


    Is this the thin edge of a wedge? Are we at risk of becoming dependent on the data monster from hell?

    1. Zenubi

      Re: Hmmm

      Lol - I think we already are.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Probably, yes.

      From the BBC take on the story; "It was part of a "new generation" of lines that "connect continents along the ocean floor with an additional layer of security beyond what's available over the public internet", Google said."

      So, added Google "security", and it's not "the public internet".

  7. RosslynDad
    Thumb Up

    Cable Nerd Map

    If you are reading these comments then the following website is probably of interest. (I probably got on El reg to start with).

    1. Outski Silver badge

      Re: Cable Nerd Map

      That's a wonderful resource, I've lost hours there in the past. Grace Hopper already included on it.

  8. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge


    Fibre To The Beach

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      Re: Fibre To The Beach

      Who will be the first to spot an OpenBeach van?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Fibre To The Beach

        An OpenBeach van?

        Isn't Cornwall already infested with VW camper vans with lift-off roofs?

  9. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Better comms for Skynet

    After all Terminator wants good connections.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Better comms for Skynet

      Why do you think Facebook was invented? It's the ultimate anti-AI defence.

      Once the machines get 1/2 as smart as humans they will sign up with Facebook and spend all their time posting kitten (or Roomba ?) videos to each other and believing conspiracy posts about who is really behind Skynet.

      How else do you stop skynet learning at an exponentially increasing rate?

      1. Dinanziame Silver badge
  10. Bogbody

    Beach cable baby

    I was there to see Grace being dragged up the beach. Quite impressive in a cabley kind of way.

    There was quite an audience :-)

    Real highlight was an excelent burger in a lovey Rosie cafe a few yards away. :-)

    1. vogon00

      Re: Beach cable baby

      Very different to my recent beach experience. I was at Caister on the Norfolk coast and got to watch a Londoner drive his shiny 4x4 down the private road used to get the lifeboat into the sea to the beach, get a few feet into the sand and then get stuck. Que much thrashing of front tyres (Someone had to point out you needed to actually engage 4WD), followed by much thrashing of all 4 types as he dug himself in even deeper. When someone from the lifeboat org pointed out he shouldn't have been there anyway (Private road, illegal to drive on the beach, blocking lifeboat access), he got all arsey - think petulant but sweary child.

      Fortunately, several people started booing him, telling him to STFU and calling him irresponsible* for having the 4WD and not knowing how to use it.

      We were all praying for a lifeboat callout, as (hopefully) the lifeboat and it's very large tracked Caterpillar launching vehicle would have driven over his 4WD and his tiny dick to get to the sea.

      *I'm being polite here. The words most commonly used began with a 'W' or a 'T' :-)

  11. JDPower666 Silver badge

    I have quite often wanted to 'lay a cable' on Google myself.

  12. Howard Sway Silver badge

    just a short seaside donkey ride from GCHQ's Bude listening post on the cliffs

    See that nobody's commented on this glaringly obvious detail yet : Google was obviously made to use this location by the secretive guys running the donkey rides, in fact it wouldn't surprise me at all if they've already connected the cable into the stables so that the folks back in Mountain View can check availability of the smelly four legged beach attractions in real time.

    1. Imhotep

      Re: just a short seaside donkey ride from GCHQ's Bude listening post on the cliffs

      The circle of life - Asses watching asses.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: just a short seaside donkey ride from GCHQ's Bude listening post on the cliffs

        Don't get too close otherwise it might be a one way donkey ride...

    2. TwistedPsycho

      Eeyore ba gum!

      T'is all rather convenient, this landing a cable near a secret Government base - in Cornwall.

      * Just outside Bude

      * with the big sign

      * Damn it, just get on the nunber 217 bus in Bude and ask the bus driver to drop you off at the secret base just beyond Coombe.

      [Sorry - it sounded better in my head. The voices said it sounded good, and that I need to tell you that there is definitely not a secret base in Bude]

      1. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

        Re: Eeyore ba gum!

        My favourite are the dirty great road signs near London saying "SECRET NUCLEAR BUNKER -- THIS WAY"

    3. Citizen99

      Re: just a short seaside donkey ride from GCHQ's Bude listening post on the cliffs

      There was a young lady from Bude ...

      You know the rest. NSFW.

    4. Mog_X

      Re: just a short seaside donkey ride from GCHQ's Bude listening post on the cliffs

      Also just a short walk from one of the wonders of the modern world - Bude Tunnel!

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

  14. PRR Bronze badge

    Another cable ship of a same name sank last year--- our brilliant community/moderators caught my confusion. Thank you.

    Anyway I found an excellent tour of a modern cable ship.

    Repeaters need power. 100 separate feeds would be awkward. They are wired in series like old holiday lights, but with as much redundancy as the topology allows.

    1. AdamT

      Yup - I worked on TAT-9 back in the '90s.

      There are a couple of bits of copper in the middle of the cable (with the fibres inside) - one is just wrapped round as a C and the other is wrapped and then welded (brazed?) into an O. The high-tensile steel cables which wrap that don't contribute that much to the conductivity.

      The regenerators (one per fibre) were powered from the drop across a zener diode so each repeater dropped about 60 - 80V.

      The current was 1.6A and this was achieved by applying about +9kV at one end of the cable (with respect to the big earth rod) and about -9kV to the other end (with respect to its big earth rod).

      Obviously most of the power is lost in the cable.

      The cable forms a crude coaxial cable (with respect to either its armouring or to the sea water as ground) which means you get some "interesting" effects if the cable either breaks or shorts. e.g. 100s of amps of current spike so the zeners were rated to about 500A and the expectation was that the repeaters would survive, a cable ship could repair the break and the cable would be back online.

  15. W.S.Gosset Silver badge

    Gave me a grin

    Not so much "Grace Under Fire" as "Grace Under Water"

    1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Gave me a grin

      Grace Under Pressure

      1. Outski Silver badge

        Re: Gave me a grin

        Surely the nearby listening station provide a Distant Early Warning that might need to be treated with Kid Gloves?

        ---->> To Neil

  16. Earth Resident

    It's the first undersea cable...

    with the surveillance taps pre-installed. After all, GCHQ has enough on their plates already.

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: It's the first undersea cable...

      I have been told...(by someone who was there)...that in some cables, the repeaters also contain hydrophones, allowing Certain Organizations to listen to passing marine objects, natural and man-made.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        Until we get quantum...

        If that's not true, somebody's security services are asleep on the job.

        In the past, submarines have turned up and spliced in taps. I'm not sure how possible that is now (or how useful, given encryption is widespread) but, aside from general monitoring, a hydrophone would provide awareness that the cable may have been tampered with.

  17. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    How long is it?

    Just wondering, if this goes along the bottom, and the average depth of the good old Atlantic is about 3.5km, how long does that make this cable overall? Is it one long piece that the boat has to carry, or is it constructed in sections that are delivered as it goes along its route?


    1. AdamT

      Re: How long is it?

      Well the cable is broken up into sections of around 50 to 100km length because you need a repeater to boost the signal. So the cable only has to be made in lengths up to that spacing and then the repeaters will be connected in at the appropriate intervals. They do try and do all this on dry land and I think in all but the longest cables the whole lot can be loaded into _huge_ cylindrical tanks which are then loaded on to the ship. There is a lot of very clever handling equipment to deploy the cable from the tank and then, every 100km, the repeater (which will be in a rack outside the tank) without twisting or kinking the cable.

      A transatlantic cable will be several thousand kilometres and I think that can usually be done in one or maybe two goes. The cable length is slightly longer than the actual path as it is laid in a slight S pattern so that there is some slack if it ever needs to be hauled up for repair.

      Ships can do cable jointing and repeater attachment/replacement while at sea, but it is to be avoided if possible! If you thought domestic cable stripping was annoying then here you have to start with an angle grinder and then work your way down the set of tools until you get to the delicate, needs to be kept very clean, fibre splicer. Then work back up sealing everything in and bonding the steel core cables (which carry the tension) and any armouring layers into the "joint" or the repeater end connector. A strange mix of hi-tech and maritime-chunky ...

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

        Re: How long is it?

        Thanks Adam, response much appreciated.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it plug into a big Toslink Connector ?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, that’s gotta hurt, M Macron..

    All that puffery about how Paris was going to be the new financial centre for Europe……

    Turns out that it’s going to be Bilbao instead. Oops.

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