We all heard the tales of aladdin mat. It will take you wherever you want go. The gigantic submarine cables running under seas are our real world aladdin mat. These cables connect the whole world so our data connection can run through it.
Almost 99% of world’s data runs through these mile long cables lying in the ocean bed. A user in south‐east asia browses a webpage saved somewhere in essex, UK within minutes through the internet, this connection is actually made possible by the submarine cable laying under the indian ocean.
So, where are these cables?
These cables are strategically placed into the oceans (Atlantic, Pacific, Indian ocean even one in the arctic) to connect the land masses of the world so maximum connectivity can be provided using minimum cost and at the same time providing redundancy. There are nearly 380 submarine cable at the moment in the world. All these cables are now fibre optic cables though they all all did not started that way. As it turns out first submarine cable was laid back in 1858 which was a telegraph cable connecting ireland and newfoundland making it first transatlantic cable connection of any kind. While now we are sending email from UK to America using today’s fiber optic submarine cable, first message to cross the atlantic took massive 17 hour 40 minute. Oh technology , how far we have come??
TeleGeography is a telecommunications market research and consulting firm which is one biggest provider of telecommunication data in the world. They maintains a digital map of world’s current submarine cables on their website including information about all the providers who maintain them.
Nicole Starosielski and her book
One of the most comprehensive work on how these submarine cables are spreaded all over the world is done by New york university assistant professor Nicole Starosielski . On her 2015 book named “The Undersea Network” , she explored the cables throughout their lengths, from submerged in the seabed to their landing station in the shore. She states in her book that
” that the environments the cables occupy are historical and political realms, where the network and the connections it enables are made possible by the deliberate negotiation and manipulation of technology, culture, politics and geography.”
Starosielski’s journey to collect the materials for her book gave birth to an eye‐ catching stunning project named “SURFACING” . Surfacing website is an interactive digital map where you can travel as a signal from one point of the world’s submarine cable map to another point and see the different location it passes through.
The journey will include narratives about the places it encounters in the journey along with the description of company that runs it . Along the way you will also learn the history of cable network. Surfacing project is one the most enriched docu‐ journey you can have in the internet about the vast world of submarine cable infrastructure around the globe. You can see images and descriptions of many landing stations around the globe .