We all often hear about the internet connected through the air, but is it?
In reality, it’s in the ocean. About 300 cables are laid undersea, which are accountable for 99 percent of International Data Traffic..
The submarine cables are basically connected in the same way underground networks are bridged from one place or, a country to another, except for the fact that they exist underwater. They transmit videos from Mumbai to New York and connect marketers from Singapore to London.
Laid by private companies, submarine cables are the backbone of the internet.
Persistence of the Optical Fiber under Ocean
The Undersea Cable has its size (width) as small as the size of a soda can.
With only a few layers of protection, the optical fibers is covered by the petroleum jelly as its first layer to provide water resistance, followed by a copper or aluminium tube. The outer layer is covered by Polyethylene to offer insulation to the fiber.
The cables are prone to earthquakes. There were few occurrences of Shark bites too. But many undersea cables are placed below the marine life, which is about as deep as the height of the Mount Everest from Sea Level.
How Undersea cables are laid ‘underwater’?
It involves a cutting edge idea, where the specially modified ships lower the plow having submarine cables, towards the sea bed as per the requirements of the cable operators.
The process has a landing station, where the long cable section is connected and also a landing point, at the ocean bed where the cables are laid.
The plow digs a small channel in the ocean bed, lays the cable in the landing point and then the ocean currents assist naturally to bury them within.
About 100-150 Km of cable laying could be done on a single day depending upon the equipment on board, sea conditions, type of plow and the ocean bed. New plows and ships can place upto 200 Km of cables on a single day.
The remarkably simple, as well as, complex process is responsible for the interconnected global network.
Endurance of the Undersea Cables
The size of the submarine cables may not be so huge, but they are designed to deal with the extreme underwater conditions and the high pressure. They can last for a decade, whereas the cost depends upon the length of the cable to be laid.
The optical fiber cable transfers Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) laser signals at a rate of terabytes per second.
Origin of the Submarine Cables
1850s marks the period, when submarine cables for communications were laid for the first time. They carried telegraphy traffic, which was later progressed to telephone traffic and then the data communications traffic. Today, the cables use optical fiber technology to transfer the digital data, which consists of the internet, telephone and various other data traffic.
The first cables were not coated by petroleum jelly, but instead they were layered with exotic tree sap to protect them from water. Although, it is said that the first sea cables were knocked down by hitting boats, but they managed to be equipped under the oceans round the globe by the year 1858.
So yes, this cutting-edge technology is 157 years old and the cables deep within the sea connects the world in speed measuring upto milliseconds.
Internet in the Cloud?
With the recent advancement of the technology, many Tech Giants like Facebook and Google have planned to bring the internet above waters to the air.
Facebook raised an idea of drones powering internet to the remote areas of Africa and the balloons lifted by Google to provide internet connectivity through air to be deployed in the upcoming year.
But the demand for high speed could only be fulfilled by the underwater cables, which are still the potential market for the leading companies.