I love maps, especially old paper maps. But when I came across this on the Internet I wanted to give it a good look. The Submarine Cable Map website is a comprehensive and regularly updated interactive map of the world’s major submarine cable systems and landing stations.
Why do I find this interesting? This is how the majority of the worlds communications systems are connected and the Internet would not be what it is today without this kind of infrastructure. What amazes me is the sheer number of undersea cables throughout the world. There used to be copper cables under the Atlantic from North America to Europe but those have all been replaced by fiber optic cables which can carry more information over greater distances.
Here is a short video from the “How It’s Made” series that shows how fiber optic cables are made. It’s a pretty interesting process and you can imagine how much effort it takes to make a cable with hundreds of fiber strands that stretches thousands of miles in a hostile underwater environment.
At one time there were issues with Sharks and other marine creatures damaging the cables. Changes in manufacturing and installation has helped resolve much of this. Outages still occur as a result of commercial fishing and the occasional anchor.
So next time you’re watching an NFL game in London or playing an online game with someone in Spain remember how that signal is probably getting to you and the effort it took to make it happen.