Amazon Echo Dot vs. Google Home Mini

Virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and the Google Assistant are at times frustratingly limited, but I also think they are the future. It still feels a bit magical when they work well, and they’re improving every day. In fact, as I have been working on this post over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to update it a number of times as both Google and Amazon have made improvements that conflicted with what I had previously written! So that’s the first thing to know – the device you buy today won’t be the device you have tomorrow.

I’ve had the Amazon Echo Dot since December and the Google Home Mini since February. To be honest, I am surprised at how quickly they’ve become a regular part of our home. Why do we have both? So I can experiment and compare, of course!

Amazon Echo Dot & Google Home Mini

Here’s a category-by-category comparison of each, based on our experience thus far. I’ll generally just refer to “Echo Dot” or “Alexa” and “Home Mini” or “Google Assistant” to make this less verbose.

Wake Word

The “wake word” is the thing you say to trigger the device to start listening. Amazon wins here. Saying “Alexa” is infinitely better than “Hey Google” or “OK Google”. Try saying it a few times, and I think you’ll agree that the latter gets old really fast. You can change the wake word for the Echo Dot, but you can’t obviously do that on the Home Mini (though I’ve read that some people have been able to do this by training the way you say “Hey Google”).

For this reason, I would say the Echo Dot is our go-to device.


I like the overall look of the Home Mini better, with its fabric cover and overall sloped shape. Both devices are about the same size, and the Echo Dot really does look like a hockey puck! For usability though, I’d say the Echo Dot wins, for two reasons. First, the lights on the Home Mini are so much harder to see than the light ring on the Echo Dot. The light ring reminds me a little of the Cortana circle with the way it lights up differently depending on what is happening. Second, the physical buttons on the Echo Dot are nice when you want to adjust the volume quickly. You can do it on the touch-sensitive Home Mini, but I never seem to tap in the right place.

I think the audio quality of the Home Mini is better than the Echo Dot, but neither of them are great (you’ll need to go with the larger versions if you want a really good speaker). Both devices support connecting an external speaker via Bluetooth, and the Echo Dot even has an audio out port if you’d rather go with a cable.


This is probably the task we use our devices for the most. We have a small Bluetooth speaker that we move around the house but in the past we’d have to pair it to my phone, or Sharon’s tablet, or whatever device we wanted to use as a source. Now we just leave it paired to the Echo Dot, and ask Alexa to play music that way. There’s a bit of a delay sometimes when powering on the speaker though, so you miss a few seconds of whatever audio the Echo Dot is playing. I’m not sure if that’s an issue with the Echo Dot or with our speaker, but it’s a minor annoyance.

As Amazon Prime members we get access to Prime Music, so that’s pretty great. You can just ask Alexa to play a song, or an artist, or a genre, and it just works. The selection isn’t always as good as Spotify though, so sometimes we’ll specifically ask to play it “on Spotify”. The playlists on Amazon Prime seem fairly limited by comparison.

The great thing about Spotify is how they’ve implemented device management. I can ask Alexa to play something on Spotify, and then I can see and control it on my phone. Or I can be on my computer and play something on Spotify and tell it to play on the Echo Dot. That flexibility just makes the experience so much better.

Music works just fine on the Home Mini too, with either Google Play Music or Spotify. The ability to ask the Google Assistant to “play that hipster song with whistling” is pretty much just a gimmick though, it’s not something I’d ever use in practice.

Timers & Reminders

Setting a timer is the next most frequent task we use the Echo Dot for. I really like that you can name the timers, and it brings me endless joy to hear the way Alexa says “tea timer” (if it doesn’t know what name you’ve used, it just sets an unnamed timer). When the timer is up, Alexa says “your tea timer is done”. In contrast, the Google Assistant just plays a sound, though you can name your timers there too. Both devices let you query how much time is left, pause, resume, or cancel any timers.

Podcasts & News

I use Stitcher for podcasts, and it’s a bit frustrating how specific you need to be with the command for Alexa. I have a news playlist setup and I have to say “Alexa, ask Stitcher to play playlist news” exactly like that in order for it to work. But at least it works! I can’t ask the Home Mini to play playlists on Stitcher, as “voice actions are not available for that app.”

Amazon Echo Dot

That said, the Home Mini might still have the edge when it comes to podcasts. I can simply say “Hey Google, play the Daily podcast” and on comes Michael Barbaro from the New York Times. Or I can open Stitcher on my phone or tablet, and cast the audio to the Home Mini. That’s pretty powerful. I also get a notification on my phone if Sharon starts casting a podcast from her device.

Both devices handle news pretty well. I can simply say “what’s in the news” and both will give me the latest audio updates. Via both apps you can configure the sources and order of the news briefings, too. We use this first thing in the morning most often, while drinking coffee and browsing the newspaper.

We also use our devices to listen to the radio, and though we struggled at first to find the right commands, it turns out you can simply say “listen to CBC Radio One” and it’ll start playing. You can be more specific with Alexa and specify TuneIn.

Home Automation

I’ve experimented with some different brands and settled on TP-Link’s Kasa devices, as they were the least hassle and most reliable in my experience. In the living room, we have the LB120 Smart Wi-Fi A19 LED Bulb, which is dimmable and lets you adjust the color of the white light from 2700K to 6500K. In the nursery we have a Smart Plug Mini with just a normal lamp plugged into it. In the bedroom we have our humidifier plugged into a Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring.

Both the Echo Dot and Home Mini can control these devices – turning them on or off, adjusting settings like color or brightness, etc.

The Kasa devices support “scenes” which let you configure a bunch of settings into one command. For instance, we have one called “Feed Emily” that turns the living room light on to a really warm, dim white. Both Alexa and the Home Mini support this, so we can simply say “turn on Feed Emily” and the scene is executed. I’ll give the Home Mini the edge here, as it automatically discovers new scenes. With Alexa, you have to open the app and “Discover Scenes” in order for it to show up.

Before I had any of these devices, I mostly thought home automation was unnecessary, especially in a small condo like ours. What’s wrong with a simple LED bulb and good old light-switch? But now, carrying Emily into the nursery to change her diaper, it’s incredibly powerful to simply say “Alexa, turn on the nursery light” on the way, no hands required.

Information Lookup

Most of the time we’re asking about the weather or sports scores. Both devices are great at these kinds of queries. Alexa is probably a little better, because her answers are a little more complete. Ask about the temperature and you’ll get the current conditions plus a sentence about what to expect today. That’s two separate queries with the Google Assistant. Likewise, ask Alexa what the score is in the Blue Jay’s game and if it is over, you’ll get the score and when the next game is. Again, two queries with the Google Assistant.

Sometimes our questions are more trivia-like, things like how old someone is, or who was in a particular movie, how far it is between two places, that kind of thing. Generally speaking, the Home Mini wins here, because the Google Assistant is able to give much better answers thanks to Google Search. If it doesn’t know the answer definitively, it’ll give you a brief readout from the top search result. Alexa more often than not simply doesn’t have an answer. There are odd exceptions, of course. For some reason Alexa has no problem telling me how old Genie Bouchard is while the Google Assistant tells me it doesn’t know how to help with that yet. And I would say that Alexa tends to be better at Hollywood-related questions, presumably because Amazon owns IMDB.

Google Home Mini

Information lookup is even better if you have an Android smartphone (or maybe the Google app is enough). I can ask the Home Mini about travel times or bus routes and in addition to a verbal answer, the Google Assistant will popup a card with more information on my phone. Super handy. You can’t do that with Alexa.

Asking for general information is simultaneously the best and worst thing about these devices. When they have the answer, it feels like magic. When they don’t, even for something that seems simple, you can’t help but feel let down.


I don’t often use either device for calendar information, to be honest. Mainly because my calendar is always front and centre on my phone, tablet, or desktop. And unlike asking for the weather, listening to a bunch of calendar entries just isn’t as useful as a quick glance.

I use Office 365 and for my calendars. Sharon uses Google Calendar and We have shared all of our calendars with one another, so they open up just fine on whatever device or app we’re using. We have a shared Family calendar in, and that’s the main one we’d want to inquire about with the Echo Dot or Home Mini.

The Home Mini only supports Google calendars, so the feature is essentially useless for me. The Echo Dot supports Google Calendar, G Suite, Office 365,, and Apple iCloud. You can only link one Microsoft calendar currently though, so you have to choose between Office 365 and No problem, my has access to all of my calendars, so that’s the one I linked. It works really well, and I can easily ask Alexa about upcoming events. The only issue I ran into is that it only displays 10 of your calendars at a time, so any more than that and Alexa simply won’t see them.


Those are the main things for us thus far. Here are some other random thoughts:

  • While Alexa now supports “Follow-up Mode”, so that you can give multiple commands, it currently isn’t supported in Canada. The Home Mini handles this just fine – I can say “turn on the living room light and what’s the weather” and it does both actions.
  • The Home Mini has a feature to set the volume to a lower level at a certain time, and it would be great if the Echo Dot had this too. Loud responses during the day are fine, but at night, quieter is better, especially with a baby in the house!
  • Sharon and I are mindful that bossing these assistants around likely won’t set the best example for Emily, so we try to remember to say please when issuing a command and “Alexa, thank you” after she responds. It would be nice if this were a little more natural though (not having to use the wake word to say thanks). Amazon must agree, because they have just announced a Kids Edition of the Echo Dot that includes a “Magic Word” feature and other kid-friendly settings. It doesn’t appear to be available in Canada yet, however.
  • Both smartphone apps are pretty similar. They let you see previous commands or queries, configure some settings for the hardware, and set some defaults for the assistant, like your location, language, etc. The Google Home app is better integrated with Android though, of course.
  • We don’t have a Fire TV or Chromecast currently, so I can’t compare the ability to control the TV. We have an Xbox One and regularly use its voice commands. We have said like “Alexa, watch TV” a few times when we meant to say “Xbox, watch TV”.
  • Both “app stores” – Skills for Alexa and Actions on Google for the Google Assistant – seem to be filled with a lot of useless junk. That said, it is nice how the Google Assistant doesn’t require skills to be “installed”. They just work.
  • Both devices let you setup a voice profile. In theory this means Sharon and I could get personalized results. But in practice, we haven’t found a reason or need to take advantage of the feature.
  • As a Windows 10 user I have Cortana on my PC, but I don’t use it, because it’s just so slow. If you want to appreciate just how quickly and seamlessly both Alexa and the Google Assistant respond to your queries, try asking Cortana for something. And don’t even get me started on Siri…

Bottom Line

Amazon Echo Dot & Google Home Mini

So if I was shopping for one today, which device would I go with? The answer is not obvious as there are strengths and weaknesses with both. If you’re fairly invested in the Google ecosystem, go with the Home Mini. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, go with the Echo Dot. Or do what I did and get both! The arms race underway between the two is only going to make them both rapidly better.

Disclosure: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links.

Twitter, Google, and search

For some reason, the “Twitter is a Google killer” hyperbole has sprung up again in the last week or so. And this time, there are some important thought leaders like John Battelle chiming in. Here’s what he wrote in a post called “Twitter = YouTube”:

So why did Google really buy YouTube? My answer, which of course looks brilliant given it’s 20/20 hindsight: YouTube was a massive search asset. Fast forward to today. What’s the most important and quickly growing form of search on the web today? Real time, conversational search. And who’s the YouTube of real time search? Yep. Twitter.

I’ve been writing about Twitter Search since the early days of Summize – I’ve always loved it. It’s no surprise to me that others are finally starting to see the value in it. Here’s what I wrote in October, for instance:

Lots of people already contribute to the noise on Twitter, and I think their user base will only continue to grow. So they’ve got that covered. Increasingly it seems that Twitter is working to extract value from that noise. That’s the area they need to focus on most.

The improvements to Twitter Search have been minimal – the addition of the “source” parameter to results, and testing integrated search on the main website. I’d love to see some additional improvements to the service.

Others who have discussed the “Twitter threat to Google” idea include: San Jose Mercury News, Fimoculous, Search Engine Journal, and The Blog Herald. AllFacebook looks at it from another angle.

What should you take away from this? Essentially, that Twitter Search is becoming increasingly important. If you’re not already using it, start now. And don’t expect Google and others to ignore it forever.

Where am I?

Though I consider myself a netizen, I don’t live online (yet). I remain tethered to the real world, in real physical space. The lines are beginning to blur somewhat however, thanks to the increasing popularity of location-based online services.

A good example of this is Brightkite, a service I’ve written about a couple of times. In a nutshell, Brightkite gives you a way to say “here I am in the real world!” For example, when I get to work in the morning I “check in”. You can see this action in two ways: on my profile (or at any service that sucks in my profile, such as FriendFeed) and on the place itself. Each place inside Brightkite has a unique ID which means every real world location has a corresponding digital representation. That’s powerful!

The problem with Brightkite is that I need to manually check in. This is where Google Latitude comes in. The service was launched on Wednesday:

Latitude is a new feature for Google Maps on your mobile device. Once you’ve opted in to Latitude, you can see the approximate location of your friends and loved ones who have decided to share their location with you.

Ready to share your location? If you have a mobile smartphone, visit on your phone’s web browser to download the latest version of Google Maps for mobile with Latitude.

It’s annoyingly basic, but it works. I’ve got it running on my BlackBerry so my location is updated in real-time everywhere I go. That means that Google Latitude knows I am in the office before I actually get on the computer to check in on Brightkite.

Obviously it would be better to have Latitude and Brightkite work together. The Brightkite team have said on Twitter that they’ll look into it as soon as Latitude has an API. I hope that happens relatively soon!

Why does all of this matter? Because location is vitally important. Today it might seem geeky to broadcast your location on the web, but in the not-to-distant future, I’m betting it’ll be completely ordinary. Your social graph and location-aware services will be the first beneficiaries of this information, but others will follow. It’s exciting to consider!

In the meantime, feel free to add me on these services. I’m on Google Latitude, and mastermaq on Brightkite.

Google Native Client: ActiveX for the other browsers

Today, Google announced Native Client, “a technology that aims to give web developers access to the full power of the client’s CPU while maintaining the browser neutrality, OS portability and safety that people expect from web applications.” Basically it’s a browser plugin that hosts a sandbox for native x86 code. So instead of writing a web page, you’d write a normal application and execute it in the browser.

I admit that I’ve only scanned the documentation and research paper so perhaps I’m missing the details, but Native Client seems entirely unnecessary for a bunch of reasons:

  • There are lots of ways to accomplish this already – Java, ActiveX, Flash/Flex, Silverlight 2, Alchemy, etc. Why do we need another one? Will it be very different or better? Heck even ClickOnce seems better than this.
  • What’s the point of running native code inside a sandbox inside a browser? Unless the sandbox is super efficient and our browsers improve by an order of magnitude, it would seem to me that the benefits of native code would be erased.
  • Similarly, with the performance of Javascript/HTML/CSS in browsers consistently improving, why write native code at all? Web apps are becoming very fast.
  • I don’t really want to install yet another plugin. The classic “chicken and egg” plugin problem will be in effect here (users won’t install the plugin without great apps and developers won’t create great apps if no one has the plugin).

This project feels a lot like Google is reinventing the wheel. Or at the very least, throwing something else out there to see if it sticks. I hope developers think about this before jumping in. A bunch of the comments on Google’s post suggest that will happen, such as this one:

Um, isn’t this called desktop software?

That kinda says it all, I think!

When you get right down to it, Native Client is just ActiveX for browsers other than Internet Explorer. Sorry Google, but that doesn’t sound very appealing to me.

Use Google Maps to find Edmonton Transit schedules and trip plans

Earlier today I stumbled across this thread on Connect2Edmonton which pointed out that Google Maps Canada now has Edmonton Transit schedules and trip planning features. I immediately jumped over to the website to check it out, and sure enough, it’s all there!

The ETS website has offered trip planning for quite some time now, of course (an average of 89,000 trips were planned each month in 2006). It works well enough, but it’s awkward to use. Everything you do seems to open a new window/tab, and it’s not the fastest service in the world. But the main drawback has always been that you have to know far too much information in advance.

When you need to get from point A to point B, you typically know the address of each, but you don’t know the bus stop number near each one and you certainly don’t know which bus to get on!

That’s where Google Maps absolutely destroys the ETS website. Here’s an example.

I need to get from my apartment building to the current Questionmark office in the west end. I live at 10350 122nd Street, and the office is at 11434 168th Street. Let’s start with the ETS Trip Planner:

  1. Date and time of travel are no problem. The “arrive by” feature is particularly nice.
  2. Enter Starting Bus Stop # or Choose a Landmark. Uh oh, what’s my bus stop number? I could go outside and look or I could try to look it up. Let’s look it up.
  3. Okay not bad, enter my address and click Get Bus Stop #. Okay wow, now I have to choose from 14 different stops! I’m not entirely sure which direction I want. The office is northwest from my house, but do I want a westbound stop or northbound? I’ll choose the first one, heading west.
  4. Now I repeat the same thing for the office address. This time I have a list of 7 stops. Again, I’ll choose the first one.
  5. Now I can get my trip plan! Or not…some sort of error just popped up – “Error in Trip Solution Results”. Excellent. Honest I’m just doing this as I write.
  6. I’m really not sure why I got that error, but I did the whole thing again and after about 30 seconds or so, I got my trip plan – six different route options. Shortest time is 46 minutes.

Now let’s do that with Google Maps:

  1. I enter my home address.
  2. On the pin that comes up, I click “From Here” and enter the office address.
  3. Next I click “Public Transit” on the left pane.
  4. That’s it! I have three suggested routes. Shortest time is 34 minutes, and each one includes walking directions too.

If you want, you can do a few more advanced things as well. Clicking “Show options” will let you choose the “Depart at” or “Arrive by” times, just like the ETS website.


And it gets better! There’s no way for me to get back to that trip plan I made using the ETS Trip Planner. Unless I printed it right there, I’d have to do it again. With Google Maps however, my plan has a permalink! Very nice.

I would love to see ETS link to the Google solution. Competition might be a concern, but it’s probably a better use of resources to help Google improve their system than to continue building an inferior one. I think it’s funny that the “Local agency information” link at the bottom of the results pane is broken. You can thank the new website for that!

Of course, the Google Maps solution isn’t yet perfect. It doesn’t seem to contain as much information as ETS, nor does it include Strathcona Transit or St. Albert Transit (as Michael Wilson pointed out to me).

Still, if you need to look up transit information in Edmonton I’d highly recommend you look at Google Maps before trying your luck with the ETS Trip Planner.

UPDATE: Found the official list of cities with transit information at Google Maps. Edmonton is not on the list yet. The currently listed Canadian cities include Vancouver, Fredericton, Ottawa, and Montreal.

Revisiting iGoogle

igoogle Like most people who spend a lot of time online, I sign up for new services all the time. Some of them I end up liking quite a bit and using regularly (such as Twitter, obviously) while others I just forget about. Until recently, iGoogle was firmly in the latter category.

iGoogle launched in May 2005, according to Wikipedia. I’m not sure when I signed up, but it likely wasn’t long after that. As you probably know, iGoogle features gadgets that you can drag around the page. Each gadget has a specific purpose – for example, a weather gadget or a calendar gadget.

Three things prompted me to give iGoogle another shot. Many of my coworkers use iGoogle as their homepage, and I kept noticing it during LiveMeetings and such. The second thing was Sharon talking about her favorite iGoogle theme (she calls it “so cute!”). And finally, Google launched an update today:

Google’s startpage, iGoogle, is spreading its wings. Today it is rolling out a new design that shifts tabs to a column on the left so that more Google gadgets and sources of content can be accommodated. But the biggest change is the ability for content partners and developers to expand each gadget to take up nearly the whole page.

Since I only used the old version a couple of times, I can’t really say whether or not the new release is a step forward or backward. I can say that I like it though! The only hiccup at the moment is that dragging gadgets around using Opera 9.6 doesn’t seem to work properly.

I’m giving iGoogle a real chance this time, and I’ve made it my homepage. Any amazing gadgets I should add? All the ones I have right now are fairly mainstream, such as the Google Calendar gadget or the Weather gadget.

Thoughts on Google Chrome

As you probably read or heard today, Google has released a beta version of their very own browser, named Chrome. You can download it today for Windows XP or Windows Vista, and Google promises that Mac and Linux versions are coming soon. I downloaded it as soon as it was available, and have been playing with it all day. Here are some of my impressions and thoughts so far:

  • The interface is surprisingly simple. I like it.
  • Chrome is fast. The two sites I’ve noticed the greatest speed difference with so far are Google Reader and Buxfer.
  • I love the “Create application shortcuts” feature. The first thing I did after testing that out was uninstall Mozilla Prism. This feature is what will keep me running Chrome.
  • I like having the status bar at the bottom of the window, so the fact that it is missing in Chrome will take some getting used to. Fortunately a box still appears when you hover over a link.
  • Firefox made an effort to look more “native” to the operating system with version 3, and I wish Google had done the same with Chrome.
  • A couple of my favorite Opera features are built into Chrome: paste and go, search shortcuts (such as “g” for Google”), and the “Speed Dial” page, though it is automatically created in Chrome vs manually created in Opera.
  • As a web developer, I’m incredibly grateful that Google built Chrome atop the WebKit rendering engine, rather than creating yet another one for us to test against.
  • I find it amusing that the Google Chrome logo has the same color scheme as the Windows logo.

Google very creatively launched Chrome with a web cartoon written by Scott McCloud. It’s quite long, but worth a look.

If you’d like to read more about Google Chrome, I suggest the following:

And for my own reference, here is the NYTimes launch article.

I’ll be sticking with Opera for now, but I’ll definitely keep my eye on Google Chrome.

Extremely Handy: Google SMS

google mobile I’m a little surprised that I’ve never blogged about Google SMS before, because it’s a wonderfully useful service that deserves more attention. It’s amazing how few people know about it! What is Google SMS? Basically, it’s Google via text messaging. The power of Google in your pocket!

Using Google SMS is really simple. All you have to do is send a text message to 466453 (GOOGLE). There are a bunch of built-in commands you can use, but the default is just a local search. For instance, when Sharon and I were in Calgary last weekend, we used Google SMS to give us the address of Tubby Dog. I sent the following message:

Tubby Dog, Calgary

And Google SMS replied immediately with:

Local Listings: Tubby Dog 1022 17 Avenue SW Calgary, T2T 0A5

I’m not exaggerating when I say immediately either – Google SMS is incredibly fast.

The built-in commands or “search features” include: weather, glossary, dictionary, stocks, directions, flights, translations, calculator, currency conversion, sports, and more. There’s a full list with examples and an interactive demo here. The ones I use most are local search (as above), movies (such as “get smart t6p”), and the calculator (such as “0.45 lb in kg”). The weather search (“weather edmonton”) is also handy.

I’m fairly dependent on Google for looking stuff up, so Google SMS is great because I don’t need to be at a computer. Do yourself a favor and program 466453 into your phone now!

Twitter the next Google? Not likely!

twitter One of my favorite blogs to read is the Four (or Five!) Reasons Why blog, written by Mark and Sean Evans. Sometimes they post serious entries (…Earth Hour Is Legit And Significant) and sometimes they post funny entries (…Aquaman Is The Lamest Superhero Of All Time). Today they posted an entry titled …Twitter Is The Next Google, But Better. I can’t tell if it’s funny or serious.

Their main argument is that Twitter is a new, better approach to search:

2. Twitter has accomplished what nobody, not even Google, has yet to figure out – crowdsourcing search.

4. Not only has Twitter inadvertently taken crowdsouring to search, it has actually taken it a step further into friendsourcing. In fact, it has created the first personalized and trusted search engine in the world.

All five statements are very bold, like the two I’ve pulled out above. Google is a giant – it’s difficult to compare anything to Google, let alone Twitter. Not surprisingly, the comments on the post are mostly shock and ridicule – “You’re out of your mind”.

I love Twitter. I’m completely enamored with it, and I recommend it to everyone I know. I get extremely frustrated when they have reliability issues like everyone else, but I always come back. I think Twitter has tremendous potential, but I’d be very hesitant to declare it the next Google.

I remember when Twitter first launched. At the time I was heavily involved in podcasting and I tracked every bit of Odeo-related news that came up. When I saw them launch Twttr (as it was spelled at first), I remember thinking they were getting sidetracked by useless little projects. Who would ever use a service that only allowed 140 characters at a time?

Clearly I was wrong. Twitter turned out to be far more interesting (and useful) than Odeo ever was. Today, I wonder how I ever got along without Twitter. I use it in a number of ways – to display my “status” on the web, as a public instant messenger, and yes as a way of searching without searching. It’s amazing how interesting stuff just comes into the river.

Twitter is new, shiny, and useful. You can definitely use it as a personalized search engine of sorts, and who knows how it’ll be used in the future. The sky is the limit. To say that it is the next Google is a bit of a stretch, however.

Read: …Twitter Is The Next Google, But Better

Don't worry about undersea cable cuts

inet Remember all the undersea cables that were cut last month? I still haven’t come across a definitive reason for the disruptions, though a February 19th article at The Inquirer claims it was sabotage. I’m not sure about that, but the one thing that is clear is that everyone has moved on. For instance, Google announced a few weeks ago that it was joining a consortium building a new $300 million undersea fiber optic cable linking the US and Japan:

The new cable system – named Unity – will address broadband demand by providing much needed capacity to sustain the unprecedented growth in data and Internet traffic between Asia and the United States.  Unity is expected to initially increase Trans-Pacific lit cable capacity by about 20 percent, with the potential to add up to 7.68 Terabits per second (Tbps) of bandwidth across the Pacific.

Om Malik has a good roundup of reasons for why Google got involved.

Just a few days ago, AT&T announced big investments in data centers here in Canada as well as undersea cables in Asia and Australia:

“Recent cable cuts in Europe and Asia show we need to further improve resiliency and re-routing capability,” he says.

AT&T has the largest private fleet of cable-laying ships in the world, and operates its global network on 71 undersea cables laid over 450,000 miles…

If you do a quick search you’ll find a bunch of other announcements for cable systems, such as this new one in Africa, and this upgraded one that links Singapore and France.

Maybe new cables are being laid faster than they are being cut after all 🙂

Also – check out this post at the Royal Pingdom blog:

Over 260 ISPs, including major network providers like AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, all cross-connect in a single data center in an office building in downtown LA.

This has been going on for 20 years. So much for not having a single point of failure.

A few cut cables seems kind of irrelevant compared to that.