Going Deep With The Colossal Submarine Internet Cables Which Connect Us
If you think troubleshooting your internet router is hard, then wait until you hear about what backs up your internet connection. Your wifi may cut out every now and then, leading you to scream into your pillow, though nothing compares to the system of transcendence that stores your high-quality meme collection. It will make you praise your wifi set up despite how puny and "cute" it appears next to the long submarine cables that support our entire home arrangement- enough to wrap around the world 30 times. That's around 406 cables with no extension cord.
Getting online is often a thoughtless action. The assumption that wifi is just a lofty omnipresence, sweeping over to guide us in the form of YouTube videos, DM slides, and spam is purely incorrect. There's an entire system operating undersea. So how does it really work? Besides divine intervention, which researchers have not found much data on yet (probably because there is none … God's not protecting your PornHub subs list), it's worth noting that undersea cables have been a thing for over 150 years now, so the idea isn't super original.
For example, the electric telegraph was able to transport written morse code, and that was back in the 1850s.
After choosing to upload your GIF, post a reply about how much a reboot Who Gives A Shit, You Were 11 When You Last Liked This Show ruined your childhood, or learn to make slime on YouTube, the info is sent via radio waves or cables to reach a router or cell phone tower. Next, fiber optic cables accept those signals and pass them off so that this data can sort and organize to the location, typically known as an internet exchange. A local network will travel and connect to another nearby location, whereas data centers across the world must undergo an oceanic trip, the cable being a vessel to pass info across the world. It is at their last stop, called a landing station, where submarine cables end and then begin their excursion above land again, and so on.
One cable system met its demise a year ago but stood as a testament to how this tedious arrangement is able to operate. Deemed the TAT 14 or 14th Transatlantic Transmission System, this cable was installed in 1957 in West Jutland, Denmark. From Denmark, it transmitted info all the way to New Jersey in the US, then back to Europe through the United Kingdom. A long road for exchanging data, a literal button that read "Sea, Earth" was posted in a room below the ocean that connected the sea cables to the land cables. But hey, clarity is key as you probably wouldn't want to be the one who disrupted a portion of the world's internet service.
The cable averaged an amount of about 80 milliseconds for signals to go back and forth with each other from the US to Denmark, if, for example, you had Googled "Why do koalas look like Danny DeVito?" A control room that seemed as if God is watching your every move is where the cables were maintained, as a live show of data footage was streamed (translation: just good old-fashioned data traversing through the cables being surveilled for quality.)
Yet how do all of these cables live in the ocean, undisturbed by sea life, fishing boats, and meddling humans? Well … they don't.
However, the cables are pretty jacked in armor depending on how deep they lay in the ocean. For reference, if the cable rests about five kilometers deep, then no armor is required. The shallower the water, the more protection is needed. As the TAT 14 did suffer from an anchor hit once, maintenance proudly displayed it in their office, cables flailing and all. And for repairs, you'd just have your repair people on a boat to come to the rescue. As for all submarine systems, the faith of the internet lies within these cables in tiny, colorful fibers, so it is imperative that they are kept safe.
So next time you scream at your modem, maybe consider the beauty that is the transportation of the internet. It traveled a long way, and the least you can do is welcome it and show some hospitality, maybe offer it some cookies … though not too many unless you want unsolicited beach umbrella ads for eternity.
For more of Oona’s sarcasm and attempted wit, visit her website oonaoffthecuff.com.
Top Image: CTBTO