The Internet: A World Below the Ocean's Surface

“Do you have Wi-Fi?”

A question all too familiar these days. Everyone knows what it is. Everyone needs it. Everyone knows how to use it. But where does it come from? Satellites? Too slow! It’s, quite literally, the direct opposite: The Internet is largely based on an intricate fiber-optic submarine cable network.

About 99 percent of all international data run through approximately 300 cables stretching over more than 880,000 km around the earth. The cables can lie more than 8,000 meter below the ocean’s surface putting pressures up to 1,500 bar on the less than 7 cm in diameter thick sheath.

With data transmission rates of currently up to 70 percent the speed of light on the one hand and an exponentially increasing Internet traffic per capita on the other hand, the advantage of a cable based solution lies at hand. And it is the reason that allows us to communicate almost instantly around the globe.

But just like conventional ethernet cables found in homes may experience damages over their expected lifetime, undersea cables have to withstand tremendous physical effects through natural forces, human induced impacts mainly caused by ship anchors and even manipulation and cyber attacks. 

Surprisingly, the first transatlantic cable communication, a telegraph, occurred between Ireland and Newfoundland in 1858, 18 years before the patent for the first practical telephone was filed. Find out how your country is directly linked to other countries on this interactive map. Click through for the link.