Sunday, July 30, 2023

"The Secret Life of the 500+ Cables That Run the Internet"

From cnet, July 24:

Multimillion-dollar cables crisscrossing the bottom of the ocean have become the vital connections of our online lives. 

The concert is in London. You're watching it live from your home in Atlanta. What makes that possible is a network of subsea cables draped across the cold, dark contours of the ocean floor, transmitting sights and sounds at the speed of light through bundles of glass fiber as thin as your hair but thousands of miles long.

These cables, only about as thick as a garden hose, are high-tech marvels. The fastest, the newly completed transatlantic cable called Amitié and funded by Meta, Microsoft and others, can carry 400 terabits of data per second. That's 400,000 times faster than your home broadband if you're lucky enough to have high-end gigabit service.

And yet subsea cables are low-tech, too, coated in tar and unspooled by ships employing basically the same process used in the 1850s to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable. SubCom, a subsea-cable maker based in New Jersey, evolved from a rope manufacturer with a factory next to a deep-water port for easy loading onto ships.

Though satellite links are becoming more important with orbiting systems like SpaceX's Starlink, subsea cables are the workhorses of global commerce and communications, carrying more than 99% of traffic between continents. TeleGeography, an analyst firm that tracks the business, knows of 552 existing and planned subsea cables, and more are on the way as the internet spreads to every part of the globe and every corner of our lives.

You probably know that tech giants like Meta, Microsoft, Amazon and Google run the brains of the internet. They're called "hyperscalers" for operating hundreds of data centers packed with millions of servers. You might not know that they also increasingly run the internet's nervous system, too.

"The whole network of undersea cables is the lifeblood of the economy," said Alan Mauldin, an analyst with TeleGeography. "It's how we're sending emails and phone calls and YouTube videos and financial transactions."

Two thirds of traffic comes from the hyperscalers, according to Telegeography. And the data demands of hyperscalers' subsea cable is surging 45% to 60% per year, said SubCom Chief Executive David Coughlan. "Their underlying growth is fairly spectacular," he said.

Hyperscalers' data demands are driven not just by their own content needs, like Instagram photos and YouTube videos viewed around the world. These companies also often operate the cloud computing businesses, like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, that underlie millions of businesses' global operations.

"As the world's hunger for content continues to increase, you need to have the infrastructure in place to be able to serve that," said Brian Quigley, who oversees Google's subsea and terrestrial networks....



November 2022
Security: "The Most Vulnerable Place on the Internet"
March 2019
"A several thousand kilometer long fiber optic cable is to be laid along the Russian Arctic coast as part of the Armed Forces’ building of a new closed internet."
March 2019
"America’s Undersea Battle With China for Control of the Global Internet Grid"

November 2020
"Google plans fiber-optic cable linking Israel and Saudi Arabia"
January 2021
"New Undersea Cables Could Become a Flashpoint in the Arctic"
September 2021
"Facebook Backs Two Major Undersea Cable Projects, Google Joins Forces For One"
That's it.
If Zuckster and the Goog are going to stand astride major communication choke points it's time to work out the details of the shortwave radio setup.

October 2021
"Biggest Tech Companies Now Building the Biggest Data Pipes"
The last time we looked at this topic was September 3's "Facebook Backs Two Major Undersea Cable Projects, Google Joins Forces For One" in which I somehow veered off to Gilligan's Island and how the Professor kept the castaways' radio working.
February 2022
Skulduggery: "'Human activity' behind Svalbard cable disruption"
October 2022
Damaged Cable Leaves Mainland Cut Off From Shetland

And a different sort of cable that didn't happen:

And one that did:
Subsea Power Cable Between Norway and U.K. Goes Live