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How the Global Internet Depends on Undersea Cables

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If there’s one thing we take for granted, it’s the internet. The internet has become a synonymous aspect of our lives, permeating into nearly everything we do. We have become so dependent on it, that we lose our collective minds when our WiFi goes down or our phones lose connection. What many don’t know is that the global internet relies upon a vast network of undersea cables to keep the global world connected. 

Up to 99% of international data is transmitted via these wires, most of which lay flat at the bottom of the ocean. These cables measure hundreds of thousands of miles long and are deployed by special boats called cable-layers. These specialized boats ensure that the undersea cables are carefully placed across flat surfaces of the ocean floor, avoiding coral reefs, sunken ships, fish beds, and any other ecological obstructions. 

If you’re thinking that giant cables stretching across the entirety of the ocean floor seems a little vulnerable, you would be absolutely right. Internet cables underground face threats like construction, unauthorized digging, and bulldozers. The aquatic environment is chock full of threats to undersea cables, some of which include boat anchors, fishing vessels, and natural disasters. 

Oh, and don’t forget sharks! The apex predators of the ocean seem to have taken a liking to gnaw on undersea internet cables. Several videos have captured the titans of the sea chomping away, and while we aren’t quite sure as to why they’re so attracted to them, they still can do damage. 

Undersea cables are capable of helping us communicate with practically anyone in the world in a fraction of a second. One such cable is a new one called the Marea. Running from Virginia Beach in the U.S. to Balboa, Spain, this 4,104-mile long, 10 million pound behemoth is one of the fastest out there. Capable of streaming 4.8 million HD movies, speeds clock out at 26.2 terabits per second. Taking into consideration the average connection speed of devices in the US, we get around 0.00010 terabits per second. 

It is strange to think that, despite our preconceptions of the “wireless age”, the internet is still so dependent on a massive undersea network of cables. As our voracious appetites for data continues to expand, global networks will be able to keep up thanks to these. 

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