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posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:12PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the If-you-laid-all-the-cables-end-to-end dept.

dotdotdot writes:

"All of the fiber-optic cables buried in the sea bed are logged by Washington research firm Telegeography in an interactive Submarine Cable Map. The company's research director Alan Mauldin told CNN about the world's underwater networks."

From the interview:

for international communications, over 99% is delivered by undersea cables.

75% of faults are due to external aggression the majority through human activity such as fishing, and ship's anchors.

There are about 13 cables in service across the Atlantic, and less than 20% of potential capacity is what we call "lit" or in service right now.

cables are designed to last for a minimum 25 years.

Once you build a cable the cost of buying capacity incrementally over time is very affordable.

The last cable across the Pacific cost $300 million; one cable that entered service last year in Asia reaching many locations cost $400 million

Related Stories

UK Official Warns of Russian Risk to Undersea Cables 33 comments

Russia a 'risk' to undersea cables, defence chief warns

The UK's most senior military officer has warned of a new threat posed by Russia to communications and internet cables that run under the sea. Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach, the chief of the defence staff, said Britain and Nato needed to prioritise protecting the lines of communication. He said it would be an "immediately and potentially catastrophic" hit to the economy if they were cut or disrupted.

The cables criss-cross the seabed, connecting up countries and continents. [...] Speaking to the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, Sir Stuart said the vulnerability of undersea lines posed a "new risk to our way of life".

Related: Brazil, Europe Direct Cable to avoid US spying
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  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:14PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05 2014, @04:14PM (#11379)

    I live down the road from one of the main cable landing stations. I've driven by the place a few times - not much to see - though I wonder if there's anything to be gained by it.

    The local ISPs don't seem to be particularly fast, so I wonder what sort of rationing goes on for connections to the main lines.

    Perhaps there's a business opportunity in this: hook up some servers next door to the landing station, ..., profit!

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:00PM

      by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:00PM (#11421)

      The local ISPs don't seem to be particularly fast, so I wonder what sort of rationing goes on for connections to the main lines.

      I'd be more inclined to blame the last mile.

      --
      [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 1) by goody on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:28PM

      by goody (2135) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @11:28PM (#11585)

      It's unlikely there's access to the fiber strands close to the landing station, and they certainly wouldn't be accessible by a tier two or three ISP. Most strands probably terminate at a major carrier hotel elsewhere and wavelengths are leased by tier one carriers for major bucks.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Buck Feta on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:49PM

    by Buck Feta (958) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:49PM (#11414) Journal
    --
    - fractious political commentary goes here -
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tlezer on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:57PM

    by tlezer (708) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @05:57PM (#11419)

    I'm surprised at the low utilization(20%). How does a company choose to dump $300M-$400M into a cable when existing utilization is so low. Opening new markets makes sense, perhaps that's where the activity is happening. Anyone know how the cost per mile of this relates to overland extension of existing services?

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by frojack on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:24PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:24PM (#11437) Journal

      How does a company choose to dump $300M-$400M into a cable when existing utilization is so low.

      That's easy, the cable belongs to someone else, and they would have to pay the owners to use it. If they can recover the cost of laying a new cable by avoiding fees for X number of years, it all comes down to a simple cost benefit calculation.

      If your traffic costs were going to be 100M/Year your payout is in year 5.

      Also notice that they don't have the same origination and destinations. So not only do you have to pay traffic costs to use the undersea cable you need to pay traffic costs to get to where you can hop on the cable.

      If you are going to lay a cable, you always want to lay way way bigger than you need.

      Also the expected life of a cable is way longer than the story quotes these days, as improvements in cable technology are pushing the life expectancy out to 50 years or better on the newer cables.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by ls671 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:24PM

      by ls671 (891) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:24PM (#11438) Homepage

      Because it's about the same price to install a cable with over capacity. In fact, it ends up being much cheaper than doing 5 runs with a cable with lower capacity, especially if you take inflation into consideration.

      --
      Everything I write is lies, read between the lines.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by davester666 on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:33PM

      by davester666 (155) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:33PM (#11444)

      The cable itself is relatively cheap [as in, to add more optic cables to the cable is relatively cheap], so you massively over-provision the cable. But you don't light it all up because then there is a glut of bandwidth so the money you get goes down.

      • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Thursday March 06 2014, @04:26PM

        by Open4D (371) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 06 2014, @04:26PM (#12030) Journal

        to add more optic cables to the cable is relatively cheap

        I assume you mean at the time of manufacture. For a second there I had an image of someone in Bude, Cornwall feeding a fibre optic cable through the main outer cable, all the way to Tuckerton, New Jersey - much like me when I have to feed the drawstring back into my tracksuit trousers :)

        P.S. If the name Bude sounds familiar, that's because it ties in with a fairly significant story from last year [theguardian.com].

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Sir Garlon on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:34PM

    by Sir Garlon (1264) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:34PM (#11447)

    I was interested, though not really surprised, to see that islands with small populations, such as the Faroes [wikipedia.org], are connected by cable.

    I was a little more surprised to see the cable across the Black Sea connecting Bulgaria to Georgia. I wonder why it was cost effective to do that rather than going around. Maybe the Georgians and Bulgarians want to talk to each other without the Russians listening in?

    --
    [Sir Garlon] is the marvellest knight that is now living, for he destroyeth many good knights, for he goeth invisible.
    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TK on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:44PM

      by TK (2760) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @06:44PM (#11451)

      I'm surprised that Tasmania has three separate connections to mainland Australia, but New Zealand's South Island doesn't have any.

      Also impressive is the length of the cable from Quebec to Alaska, and then on to Japan. I suppose that must have been cheaper than forging an internet pipeline across land, and all the little lakes in between.

      --
      The fleas have smaller fleas, upon their backs to bite them, and those fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum
      • (Score: 2) by EvilJim on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:28PM

        by EvilJim (2501) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @09:28PM (#11527) Journal

        NZ's south island also only has one phone area code whereas the north has a heap. probably due to population dispersion. Plus we probably have our own cables between north and south which are nothing to do with the company in question. - only speculation here.

    • (Score: 1) by bob_super on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:22PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @07:22PM (#11475)

      Three words: Digging is expensive.

      Someone did the math, and the occasional "anchor" disruption is a lot cheaper than a continuous right-of-way on land (including crossing rivers and mountains), where the pesky humans may cause cheaper but more frequent cuts anyway.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by demonlapin on Wednesday March 05 2014, @08:21PM

    by demonlapin (925) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @08:21PM (#11500) Journal
    Neal Stephenson's epic Mother Earth Mother Board [wired.com] from 1996 is a pretty good read on the same basic topic.

    Also, that map is a very good answer to the question "how do the US/UK/CA/NZ/AU monitor everything on earth?"
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by combatserver on Wednesday March 05 2014, @10:15PM

    by combatserver (38) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @10:15PM (#11552)

    From the Wikipedia entry for the USS Jimmy Carter(SSN-23):

    "Carter has additional maneuvering devices fitted fore and aft that will allow her to keep station over selected targets in odd currents. Past submarines outfitted this way were used to tap undersea cables, to intercept communications of foreign countries. Intelligence experts speculate that the MMP may find use in similar missions as an underwater splicing chamber for fiber optic cables."

    Ships anchors, my ass. You cannot splice a fiber-optic cable without temporarily interrupting the flow of information--unlike electricity flowing through wires being redirected until the splice is complete, fiber optic cables have to be cut and a device placed into the light stream of each fiber, and this takes time. Remember all of the "boat anchors" that knocked out cabling to the middle-east and southeast-asia a couple of years ago?

    --
    I hope I can change this later...
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by FuckBeta on Wednesday March 05 2014, @10:54PM

      by FuckBeta (1504) on Wednesday March 05 2014, @10:54PM (#11567) Homepage

      Undersea cables: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2008/02/fou rth_undersea.html [schneier.com]
      So many events with "unexplained" causes make sense in light of last years revelations.
      Including the big Skype "outage" in 2009.

      --
      Quit Slashdot...because Fuck Beta!
    • (Score: 2) by Open4D on Thursday March 06 2014, @05:15PM

      by Open4D (371) Subscriber Badge on Thursday March 06 2014, @05:15PM (#12059) Journal

      Interesting theory.
      For the cable to be cut, and then start working again without any repair boat [acmarepair.com] having to do anything, would be extremely unsubtle. But I wonder whether a stealth submarine could make a 1st cut to look like anchor damage, and then a 2nd cut a mile away, where they splice in their monitoring equipment, and make a quick getaway before the repair boat arrives to deal with the 1st cut?