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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

How the Internet Spans the Globe

Part of the power of the internet was the fact that there were multiple ways to get from A to B,   but this article makes it seem more vulnerable.  The stats are interesting.   My old wrong impression was that it was mostly transmitted by satellite.   Also the largest user of the internet seems not to be business,  but streaming by Netflix.

How the Internet Spans the Globe
By Logan Kugler

Communications of the ACM, January 2020, Vol. 63 No. 1, Pages 14-16

Undersea cables are responsible for moving data between countries and continents at high speeds, making everything from photo sharing to financial transactions possible. These cables use fiber optics to move data at high speeds to land, where the data is then conveyed via fiber optics to homes and businesses.

Yet, despite the billions of people relying on the data moved by undersea cables, there are only about 380 of them worldwide as of 2019, according to CNN estimates, though they span more than 745,000 miles—or more than three times the distance to the moon.

Given the sheer scope of undersea cables, which often span entire oceans, The New York Times estimates an individual undersea cable project can cost up to $350 million. That is why these cables have historically been laid by global telecommunications firms with the deep pockets and technical expertise necessary to undertake these projects. However, tech companies are increasingly dominating both the use and implementation of undersea cables.

"Some of the main investors in new cables now are Google and Facebook," says Alan Maudlin, research director at TeleGeography, a telecommunications research firm, because tech giants are increasingly the ones using all that undersea bandwidth. .... '

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