Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Undersea cables

We discuss backbone connectivity, including udersea cables. The first undersea cable carried telegraph traffic between New York and London in 1858.

Today, undersea cables have a combined capacity of over 7 terabits per second, as shown in this map:

The map also shows the site of a recent cable cut off the Egyptian coast. The cut was attributed to a ship dragging its anchor, and repairs are underway, but some wonder if it may have been cut intentionally.

Undersea cables are high-capacity components of a rapidly growing global nervous system. (You might think of the connected people and computers as being like neurons). You can read the story of the construction of the FLAG cable in an epic article from Wired Magazine entitled Mother Earth Mother Board.

You can get an idea of the history and importance of undersea cables in Arthur C. Clarke's "How the World was One" or check this Web site on the history of Atlantic and other cables.

Satellite links also carry intercontinental traffic -- how does their speed, capacity, latency, and ease of deployment compare with undersea cables?