Thin underwater cables hold the internet. See a map of them all.

Thin underwater cables hold the internet. See a map of them all.

We never stop hearing about how the internet’s
in the cloud. But really, it’s in the ocean. About 300 undersea fiber optic cables are
responsible for 99% of international data traffic. It’s basically the same way we connect to
each other in a single country, except under water instead of underground. They transmit PewDiePie from Europe to America
and they connect stock traders in New York and London. And these cables, placed by private companies,
are the backbone of the internet, but if you held one in your hand it’d be no bigger than
a soda can. There are just a few layers of protection
from the water, including petroleum jelly (yes, your internet is covered in Vaseline).
They’re vulnerable to earthquakes, at least a few times, confused sharks have
bitten them. But many cables are beneath sea life, because
in some places they go as deep underwater as Mount Everest is high. Ships lower a plow that digs a tiny groove
in the ocean floor, lay in the cable, and it’s naturally buried by sand, thanks to the
ocean’s current. And that process — it’s both stunningly simple
and mindblowingly complex — is responsible for making the internet a truly global network. It’s an idea so audacious and crazy, and you
think that it has to be cutting edge. And it is. But it’s also been going on for 157 years. Electric telegraphs have been around for a
long, long time. Experiments in the early 1800s connected two
ends of a garden, using a clock that revealed letters, then they moved on to two neighborhoods, to help signal trains,
and then multiple cities, thanks to the network of railroad lines. Underwater “submarine cables” were an obvious
next step. So they played around. Instead of petroleum jelly, the first ones
were coated with exotic tree sap to protect them from the water. And though the undersea cables came in spurts
— one of the first ones was knocked out of commission by a fishing boat — and by 1858 they reached around the Atlantic
and across the world. And that’s how it’s kind of gone since, laying
cables that circle the earth’s oceans. The cables are unwound from the back of a
ship, sink to the ocean floor, and the world is connected in speeds measured in milliseconds. There are ideas to bring the internet above
sea level. Along with cell phone towers, there’s internet beamed from Facebook satellites to Africa and balloons
lifted by Google. But for speedy international travel, undersea
cables are still where companies like Facebook and Google place their bets. That’s because the best way to create the
cloud is still by going under the sea.

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “Thin underwater cables hold the internet. See a map of them all.

  1. My dad's a marine engineer & spent around 30 years working for a company that layed these cables. Was always one of his pet hates when people talked about the internet going through satellites.

  2. "The cloud" at least in the storage sense, is an annoyingly dumb way of describing what it actually is. There should be a better, more nefarious sounding term that gives people a real understanding of hard drives in distant large buildings holding your private data while you have little control over what can ultimately be done with it.

  3. That makes me think about the connection that would be had when playing or surfing the Internet with people on Mars or other planets. If at any time there is an interplanetary connection service.

  4. OMG, does any know how the internet actually works these undersea cables are only part of it. You just described the World Wide Web with less entirely accurate information.

  5. ?????? I just imagined all the wires were in the air and airplanes would fly into it and snap it. Thats why they say to close all electronics during landing and takeoff. ?????????

  6. Hmmmm……… been over 30 years since I've seen the movie but didn't Jaws bite into some sort of cable under the ocean?

  7. “Motherboard” actually has a video on this and it provides so much substance as they went to the “beach house” where all the wires are connected. It’s awesome to see the facilitator of the facility walkthrough every important details. I will comment the link below!

  8. Cuba is doing the same thing, it's illegal to use internet there but people have created a huge lanparty that connects them all

  9. Does it ever happen to you guys that you look at a map of Earth and first see the land as ocean and the ocean as land? It took me 15 seconds to realize that the thumbnail image of this video is not a psychedelic map of Europe

  10. Communist RedChina wants to use this thin underwater cables to steal all the security information from USA through Taiwan.

  11. The pioneering work carried out by the Atlantic Telegraph Company in 1857 and 1858 has, as its legacy, the Internet. And the exotic tree sap is called gutta-percha, and was also used in golf-balls.

  12. It seems like these would be vulnerable to a terrorist attack or to being cut by a rival nation in a time of war….

  13. Did anyone feel that slight nostalgia from the nfl/spongebob music that played halfway through the video? Or was that just me

  14. How much time in this vid dies he have to tell us it's audacious and cutting edge and amazing etc etc… Give us more actual interesting info on it

  15. Only 2-3% of telecommunications is by satellite; 97-98% is by cable. It's a question of data. There's so much these days that even the fibre optic cables spanning our oceans are running out of capacity.

  16. This video is an Evidence that they are no satellite in space. Also why do we need cell towers if we supposed to be getting our signal from satellite again this is 1920s technology that we are using in 2019

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