Internet marketing resources, ecommerce web site design tutorials and  just for fun - free cell phone ringtones!
  Taming the Beast - quality web marketing and ecommerce development services

Internet’s tubes – submarine cables

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Saturday September 6, 2008 )

Back in 2006, United States Senator Ted Stevens described the Internet as a “series of tubes”. It was funny, but there are indeed some mighty long tubes that the Internet, or “eban” as my mother in law calls it (bless her), runs along.

These “tubes” are submarine cables.

All the world’s continents, except for Antarctica, have been connected by submarine cables since 2003. You’d think with all the masses of data travelling between countries that these cables would be incredibly thick, but according to wikipedia, they are usually only around 69 mm (2.71 inches) in diameter and weigh approximately 10 kg (22 pounds) per meter. Even thinner cables are used in particularly deep waters.

Close to shore, the cables are buried in order to minimize the risk of them being trawled up by fishing boats or caught by anchors. Given the great distances these cables traverse, repeaters are placed at intervals to amplify the signal. The higher the bandwidth of the cable, the more repeaters are needed. However, in the case of fiber optic cable, The optic fiber which has excellent clarity, amplifiers can be over 100 kilometers apart.

The amount of submarine cabling in place around the world is quite incredible; take a look at this image from Telegeography (click on the image for a larger view)


Even with all our whizz bang technology, we’re still heavily reliant on what is essentially a very thin, incredibly long extension cord, most of which is just sitting on top of the ocean floor – and accidents still occur, with 50 cable repairs a year being made just in the Atlantic. Even sharks are known to have a nibble at our communications infrastructure.

So, poor old Ted really wasn’t all that far off the mark with his “series of tubes” statement. Aside from the submarine cables, there’s also the cables that run from the landing station to exchanges etc. and ultimately to your home or office.

Now, back to surfing the eban and checking my Internets for messages.


Comments for Internet’s tubes – submarine cables

No comments yet.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.