Undersea Cables—are your office cables in good shape?
From an advanced technological standpoint, the world can be seen as one giant computer motherboard. We may not always be able to see them but there are countless miles of cables that link cities, countries, continents to create one big interconnected web. But of all our technological links, it is the Internet that is possibly the most impressive in design. Here’s everything you didn’t know about undersea cables.
What are undersea cables?
Almost all of our international data is transmitted by wires at the bottom of the ocean, which are also known as submarine communications cables. There are currently about 300 in total that link up various parts of the world.
To give you an idea of the sheer scale of these cables, the South East Asia, Middle East and Western Europe ‘SEA-ME-WE 3’ network is the longest in the world coming in at 39,000 kilometres. It links 33 countries and four continents, stretching from Western Europe to Australia and East Asia.
Extraordinarily robust, these undersea cables can carry up to 80 Tbps, which is the equivalent to transmitting 2,100 DVDs of 4.7 GB each in one second.
Are lengthy cables really the most efficient way to transport data?
Back in 1995, the majority of our transoceanic internet data was sent via orbiting satellites and only less than half was transmitted through undersea cables. Now, 99% is transmitted through undersea cables and only remote areas and islands, such as the Antarctic, is connected using satellites.
It may seem like satellites would be the more efficient and futuristic option, but as it turns out, laying thousands of miles of cables on the ocean floor, is actually, currently the best way forward. That’s because sending and receiving signals to and from space takes time which results in latency and bit loss. Additionally, thanks to the invention of fibre optic cables, data can be sent at 99.7% the speed of light, making it vastly more efficient and cost effective.
Are there any threats to undersea cables?
Although undersea cables are made of fibre optics, which are strands of small highly purified glass as thin as a human hair, they are incredibly well protected. Undersea cables have to withstand pressure of 8km of water on top of them, that’s equivalent to a bull elephant on your thumb.
But it’s not just the weight of the water that poses a risk. Undersea cables have to withstand a number of aquatic threats, such as boat anchors, trawling by fishing vessels, natural disasters, and even shark attacks (yes, really!).
How are they repaired?
As you can imagine, from time to time undersea cables are damaged, and it’s no easy feat to fix them. Special repair ships are dispatched which then send robots down to pull up the damaged cable. Once above sea level the cables can be fixed and re-laid in the right place.
Luckily, undersea transoceanic cables have a life expectancy of 25 years, during which time they are considered economically viable from a capacity standpoint. However, in the past ten years global data usage has exploded and has almost tripled from 5 gigabytes per capita to 14. This increase in traffic will obviously cause an issue, meaning that some cables won’t be able to cope and will require frequent upgrades.
The sheer magnitude of undersea cables goes to show how important these transoceanic data links actually are. And although it’s on a much smaller scale, the cables in your working environment are much the same. Thankfully, repairing and replacing damaged or out-dated cables in your office or workspace is a much easier task. All it requires is a cabling health check to get you on your way to an efficient, reliable and cost-effective data network, and to keep your business connected.
Out of sight, but not out of mind—how do your office cables fair?
At Next Systems, we’ve developed a comprehensive and rigorous Cabling Health Check specifically designed to prevent your business from being held back by inadequate data capabilities. Our Cabling Health Check offers you a range technical and commercial advantages that you just can’t ignore. Contact us for more information on our cabling health checks.