According to Commsday, a news website covering the telecoms industry in the APAC region, rumor has it that Google is part of a consortium building a cable with terabit capacity called "Unity" that stretches over the from America over the Pacific to Asia - a final route apparently hasn't been determined yet.
"Google would get access to a fibre pair at build cost handing it a tremendous cost advantage over rivals such as MSN and Yahoo, and also potentially enabling it to peer with Asia ISPs behind their international gateways - considerably improving the affordability of Internet services across Asia Pacific."
Mmh, not so sure about that. While International Internet traffic (the demand side) has consistently been growing (see graph, data compares mid-year measurements, courtesy of Telegeography) the supply has kept up by lighting up new fiber and the ability to squeeze ever more Lambdas into a lightwave (see Infinera's recent trans-oceanic 40G trial)
Trans-big water capacity is a commodity with cut-throat margins on capex-heavy networks and backbone carriers of the likes of a Level 3 (LVLT), Global Crossing (GLBC), AboveNet (ABVT) and XO Communications (XOHO) bringing in one quarterly loss after the other, and it's likely to stay that way.
So rather than going through the complex burden of building and running an undersea cable, any buyer of bandwidth would be better off by purchasing that capacity on the spot market.
But Google being Google, there must be other reasons for them to get into this business, and my assumption is they do it for business flexibility reasons. If you own the network, you can do a lot more stuff around it than just sending data packets back and forth. It starts with the fact that you don't need to go to your purchasing director and ask for approval to buy more bandwidth and then wait until that happens. Instead, you simply walk down the hall to fiber-dude and ask him to switch on more Lambdas for you.
On a different page, I sometimes don't understand why people get so frantic about Google and fiber - there seems to be no mystery. Plus, there already is a big Internet portal out there that has its very own backbone network, and that is - AOL. AOL is running its data centers on top of the AOL Data Transit Network, and they're not small either, as ADTN is one of nine global Tier-1 backbone networks.
Now AOL might not be relevant anymore in the battle for the Internet that's fought between Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to some extent, but as for the backbone, they are already doing what Google is apparently trying to do.
For some more background on submarine cables and a list of all cables, see these Terabit Consulting presentations.