r/dataisbeautiful OC: 25 Sep 22 '21 Helpful 44 Wholesome 40 Take My Energy 2 This 1 Mind Blown 1 Silver 46 Gold 3 Hugz 43 All-Seeing Upvote 3 Bravo Grande! 1

Earth's Submarine Fiber Optic Cable Network [OC] OC

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77.0k Upvotes

u/dataisbeautiful-bot OC: ∞ Sep 22 '21 Silver

Thank you for your Original Content, /u/tylermw8!
Here is some important information about this post:

Remember that all visualizations on r/DataIsBeautiful should be viewed with a healthy dose of skepticism. If you see a potential issue or oversight in the visualization, please post a constructive comment below. Post approval does not signify that this visualization has been verified or its sources checked.

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Not satisfied with this visual? Think you can do better? Remix this visual with the data in the author's citation.


I'm open source | How I work

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u/tylermw8 OC: 25 Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21 Hugz All-Seeing Upvote Bravo! Awesome Original Content

I created this visualization in R, using the rayrender package. I also used geojsonsf to convert the data from the provided GeoJSON format to be processed by the sf package and imported into the 3D rayrender scene.

Full code:

https://gist.github.com/tylermorganwall/b222fcebcac3de56a6e144d73d166322

Rayrender Documentation:

www.rayrender.net

Rayrender Github:

https://github.com/tylermorganwall/rayrender

Data Source:

https://github.com/telegeography/www.submarinecablemap.com

Other notes:

The colors chosen were those assigned by the Submarine Cable Map source, and designate specific cables. The colors themselves have no meaning, other than differentiating between different lines.

Check out my Twitter for more 3D dataviz content:

https://www.twitter.com/tylermorganwall

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u/lunelily Sep 22 '21

Me: oh cool, I know a bit of R, I’ll check it out!

Me, looking at this code: help

I recognize length() and rbind(), at least!

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u/Sunfuels Sep 22 '21 Heartwarming

Wait, is the entire code 41 lines long?!?

Like I get that packages are involved, but still that's orders of magnitude less work than I expected this to be. I'm an engineer and I have written 50-100 line codes in Matlab to solve a single equation - this person rendered a whole globe and plotted data to it with 41 lines.

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u/tylermw8 OC: 25 Sep 22 '21

Check out rayrender and rayshader! I wrote these packages to make 3D dataviz super easy.

www.rayrender.net

www.rayshader.com

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u/opinionsarelegal Sep 22 '21

fyi "http://www.rayrender.net/" does not redirect to "https://www.rayrender.net/" and serves over http. rayshader redirects to https tho.

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u/a-interestingusrname Sep 22 '21

I've made the same mistake on my own websites and not realized because I have HTTPS Everywhere

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u/opinionsarelegal Sep 22 '21

I reverse proxy with cloudflare free plan and it will do automatic https rewrites as well as redirecting to https. It’s pretty nifty.

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u/blahahaX Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

41 lines of code, but the library has probably had 1000+ lines and all the dependencies 10000+. We all stand on the shoulder of giants.

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u/Yadobler Sep 22 '21

Because the first part is loading the coordinates and putting them in a list (with some tweaking)

The second part is just rendering the cables on a picture of the world, for 720 frames

It's really just packages.

Number of code is very bad in judging what outputs are expected

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u/moondrunkmonster Sep 22 '21

I think it's more likely a lot of it lives in JSON config

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u/tylermw8 OC: 25 Sep 22 '21

Nope, what you see in the code is all that it took! That’s the power of R packages.

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u/Jwhitx Sep 22 '21

On behalf of everyone who still doesn't quite understand how this is possible, holy shit gj.

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u/ramplay Sep 22 '21 Snek

Someone, somewhere at sometime wrote a lot of code, tested it and got it to a stable state. Then they packaged it into an easy to import and use 'package'.


The above repeats, until you get to a point where op imports a few packages does 40 lines of code and boom. But in reality, there is like hundreds if not thousands of lines of code written by various different developers being used.

Its the epitome of abstraction, something we love (and hate) in coding/software dev.

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u/sniper1rfa Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

In this case, it was OP that wrote all that code - he's using his own packages.

Then he wrote 41 lines of other code and posted it here.

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u/ramplay Sep 22 '21

That to me is a potential indication of a good developer too. To be able to create useful packages that you can then reuse with ease for other projects. Its a good skill to have.

I still remember in University, going from a first year who wrote everything in the same file with Main (we wrote in C), to realizing the beauty of header files and include statements. Not quite the same thing as packages at that simple of a level, but similar concept nonetheless.

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u/themonsterinquestion Sep 22 '21

To be fair if you're not entering binary with a telegraph key you're using somebody else's code

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u/ramplay Sep 22 '21

I prefer to write everything from scratch, I engrave divots into rock

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u/Dyledion Sep 22 '21 Hugz

Hah, I run programs by rapidly making loud clicking noises with my tongue while facing different directions in a canyon, and continuing based on the timing and interference of the echoes.

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u/PHealthy OC: 21 Sep 22 '21

It's all C, C++, and R if you check the Git. He's just slapping a high res 2d map onto a sphere then mapping a 3d plot of lines onto that. Now if the globe had rayshader elevation as well.... Come on Tyler, show us what you really got by mapping these lines to the underwater terrain. :P

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u/CellularBeing Sep 22 '21

Uhhhh uhhhh uhhhhhh

Print("hello world")

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u/fozzyboy Sep 22 '21

Pfft. For me it's more like:

Print("hello world)

Me to myself: Good job screwing up something so simple.

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u/Nytra Sep 22 '21

var int = string;

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u/PHealthy OC: 21 Sep 22 '21

A loop to plot each cable's points within a loop to path and color a line through each group of points then rendering each scene on a globe with those colored lines on top.

I wonder if a future apply could vastly speed up the pathing function?

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u/tylermw8 OC: 25 Sep 22 '21

The loop only takes a second or two to run, while rendering all 720 frames take hours—no need to optimize that portion of the code! (The rendering code is indeed parallelized)

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u/mudball12 Sep 22 '21

Probably, but speed is not the important concept here since it’s not a rendering pipeline, just a single cool graphic. Points for maintaining readability over “the optimal solution”

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u/THEAETIK Sep 22 '21

Thanks for sharing, I wonder how this compares with Blender's new rendering (Eevee).

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u/ParallelTony Sep 22 '21

Damn. Just learning R. Didn't know it could do this!

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u/Wendego716 Sep 22 '21

At this point, I'm convinced R could make you a ham and cheese omelet if you coded it right.

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u/enty6003 Sep 22 '21

Omelette du from-R-ge

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u/spectra2000_ Sep 22 '21

This was made via R? Damn, I never thought you could make something as detailed and in 3D with it.

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u/sumancha Sep 22 '21

Thanks for code. Might have to learn R

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u/BananaSlander Sep 22 '21

The Caribbean looks like the cable management for my PC

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u/netopiax Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

I was down there recently so I was looking at the 2d version of the map for the Caribbean. There's so many islands and practically every other one is a separate country.

It seems like they competed with each other to try to be the place where a lot of cables came ashore, so there's some redundancy in the region.

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u/Stalking_Goat Sep 22 '21

Also many Caribbean islands depend on tourism, and modern tourists want fast internet connections. An undersea cable will deliver much lower latency than existing satellite internet. So on the one hand there's something like a dozen undersea cables between North America and Europe and each one has massive capacity, and on the other hand there's many dozens of undersea cables connecting North America to various Caribbean islands but each cable has only modest bandwidth.

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u/MyOnlyAccount_6 Sep 22 '21

Yeah and some of these seem to go to remote islands in the middle of the ocean.

I know at our resort on an island near Tahiti, the internet was basically dial up speed.

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u/misplacedfocus Sep 22 '21

It’s also due to legacy networks. In the early days before satellite, sea cable was the default. A lot of the Caribbean islands cable network are the result of Mercury, Cable & Wireless, KPN, SFR etc from the 70s (association to European countries)

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u/MakingMoney654 Sep 22 '21

even now with satellites.. sea cables are still the default.. they will always be default.

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u/Stunt-Driver Sep 22 '21

cries in non-modular power supply

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u/EarthshatterReady Sep 22 '21

Holy shit Hawaii is really out in the middle of nowhere huh

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u/NoDoze- Sep 22 '21

More impressive is how many lines come out of Guam.

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u/thedaveknox Sep 22 '21

Makes sense- there is US military base there.

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u/yellekc Sep 22 '21

Cables are there for the same reason the US has bases on Guam. It's a strategic location.

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u/Rc202402 Sep 22 '21

Does that also mean all those Onlyfans nudes also pass through that military base?

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u/i_have_chosen_a_name Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

Yeah the main reason they have so many lines go there is to spy on all al the data passing through. Because of how the internet works with the border gateway protocol that automatically trust all edge nodes, they can technically re route traffic over GUAM at times to capture packets that usually don't flow over GUAM.

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u/Reniconix Sep 23 '21

Definitely not the main reason, but we ain't complaining about it being possible.

The ACTUAL reason is that it's a hub for the US military's global network (the DODIN). A lot of undersea cables were laid for the military exclusively. But since they were laying those cables, they thought "why not lay commercial cable too?"

There's more to it, but of course, that's classified information.

Source: I used to be in charge of portions of the aforementioned network.

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u/Dagger789 Sep 22 '21

Holy shit that’s so interesting.

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u/MeccIt Sep 22 '21

and NASA needs it too for Space comms:

[In] 1998, ... NASA closed that “zone of exclusion” with the construction of the remote ground terminal in Guam, allowing communications with the station while over the Indian Ocean.

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u/timoumd Sep 22 '21

French Polynesia is really covered well given its distance and low population.

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u/brp Sep 22 '21

It was a big transit hub many years ago when the technology wasn't good enough to transit 10,000km across the Pacific Ocean without signal regeneration along the way.

Since the late 90s and early 2000sz that's not an issue anymore and they now mostly just lay cables directly from Oregon/California to Korea/Japan/China/Australia

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u/Donny-Moscow Sep 22 '21

That’s actually a common misconception. According to every map of the US, Hawaii is located just off the southern coast of Arizona. You know, just east of Alaska.

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u/Ninja_rooster Sep 23 '21

Hey! I’ve got beachfront property there!

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u/megamanxoxo Sep 22 '21

It's a 5-6 hour ride into the middle of the ocean from California. It takes less time to travel to New York on the other side of the country if that gives you some perspective just how far it is.

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u/throwaway09876655414 Sep 22 '21

The time change is pretty significant for still being in the us as well. Prepare for a slight jet lag.

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u/devilbunny Sep 22 '21

Honolulu is the most isolated capital city in the world. Yes, even more so than Perth.

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u/richochet12 Sep 23 '21

Is it comparing Honnolulu to national capitals or administrative divisions of other nations' capitals?

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u/FeIsenheimer Sep 22 '21

It Looks like that there are big Knots in the Pacific Ocean.
Are those on an Island, or do they connet them in the water?

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u/thepizzlefry Sep 22 '21

It's Guam. (Source: Am from Guam)

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u/bryson430 Sep 22 '21

Thank you! I was trying to work out what was North of Papua New Guinea, turns out I was zoomed out too far on the map for Guam to show up!

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u/Khiraji Sep 22 '21

I had to bust out Google Maps to figure out "why do they all converge at some random spot in the Pacific?".

Though, why do they all converge at some random spot in the Pacific Guam? Convenience? Strategic value?

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u/funwok Sep 22 '21

Guam is US territory and hosts some big military bases there. It's pretty much the major forward operating base for Americans in the pacific (which is not dependent on allied countries).

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u/Khiraji Sep 22 '21

Ah, duh 🙄 big military presence. My coffee hasn't yet hit.

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u/King_Jeebus Sep 22 '21

Are there huge buildings on Guam dealing with this and massive cables crossing the shoreline, or you wouldn't even know?

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u/yellekc Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

I live in Guam.

And you wouldn't even know.

There are about 125 kilometers of coastline and the cables are small.

If you go to some beaches you can see where they come up if you go snorkeling, but they are already enclosed in metal conduits and are buried below the beaches. If you didn't know what you were looking for you might not notice. Example.

The buildings they go to are not remarkable at all. There are only a few. Multiple cables land at each landing point.

Here is one of them

If you look you can see the path the fiber takes to the ocean.

All the cables come in on the western shore. Those going east just wrap around. The reason is the west is the leeward side and might protected from the easterly trade winds.

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u/King_Jeebus Sep 22 '21

Huh, that's really neat, thanks for the info and the links!

Guam looks very pretty too, much more forest and undeveloped land than I would have expected for somewhere so small yet so central. Cheers :)

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u/brp Sep 22 '21

Yes, I've worked in one. Purpose built cable station with massive power plant and generators.

There's also an old AT&T cable station in Guam that's literally in an underground bunker.

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u/FeIsenheimer Sep 22 '21

Okey, with so many Internetcables on such a small Island you need to have good Internet right? :D

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u/754754 Sep 22 '21

I lived in guam about 3 years ago (for about 5 years) and the internet was pretty much your average 25mbps plan where you see about 1Mb/s upload and download. Wireless LTE is pretty good around the major cities (Tumon/Tamuning, Agana, and the 2 military bases) but not that great on the eastern and southern parts of the island. Its just super expensive and there are only 2 providers (GTA and Docomo Pacific) which run about $80-100 per month. Im not sure if things have changed in the last few years.

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u/DeadBloatedGoat Sep 22 '21

Well, the fact that a few cables transit Guam means nothing to your local provider. Just being close to a major data pipe doesn't change what they can charge you or what quality they provide. I'm sure someone with IP transit/peering experience can explain the costs your ISP incurs and why your monthly bill is that high.

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u/SilkyZ Sep 22 '21

No, last mile cabling is still shit

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u/Koh-I-Noor Sep 22 '21

I guess the CIA is sitting right next to it?

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u/Martin81 Sep 22 '21

NSA

Snowden worked on Hawaii.

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u/ru18qt314 Sep 22 '21

How's your connection? They say the Canaries have excellent Internet.

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u/Mad_Maddin Sep 22 '21

One of the most impressive feats imo is that the first trans-atlantic cable had been laid in the 19th century. Almost 150 years ago.

It was total shit and barely worked and broke a couple years later, but it did work.

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u/braedog97 Sep 22 '21

It was total shit and barely worked and broke a couple years later

I think this is the cable my company is using for my internet

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u/frosted_potato Sep 22 '21

did they burry them or are they just sitting on the ocean floor?

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u/fluffychien Sep 22 '21

In the deep ocean they are mostly just sitting there. Near coastlines they are mostly buried. It depends on the risk from trawlers dragging on the bottom, and of anchors dragging. The bigger the risk, the deeper they bury the cable and the more steel mesh armour they put around it. Also it depends what's on the bottom - it's easy to bury in mud, much harder to bury in rock.

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u/frosted_potato Sep 22 '21

Huh, very interesting. I’m guessing overtime they probably get burried anyway due to ocean currents and animal activity.

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u/maxdamage4 Sep 22 '21 Wholesome

shit there are animals in the ocean now too?

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u/ODubhaigan Sep 22 '21

Don't worry I'm working on it

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u/Rhovanind Sep 22 '21

I think there was one time when sharks were biting the cables and causing issues.

Edit Edit 2

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u/Targaryota Sep 22 '21

Idk why I pictured them with a 6 ft diameter

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u/BerossusZ Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

At the bottom of the ocean? Honestly probably not. Much of the bottom of the ocean is like the surface of the moon, very quiet and barren.

For one, there's very few animals at the bottom, let alone ones that would disturb the dirt/sand in any significant way.

But also at the very bottom of the ocean the ocean currents are going to be moving really slowly since the temperature differences are so small that deep down. Where they are moving faster would be in the center of the ocean where the hot/cold water sinks/rises quickly. Plus, they'd need to be relatively turbulent to kick up dirt/sand, but the bottom of the ocean is very flat so there's not much to cause turbulence.

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u/texasrigger Sep 22 '21

I would think silt cartied by currents closer to the surface would precipitate down over time as well as the biomass of the things living and dying above settling down.

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u/theloniousjoe Sep 22 '21

It does, and it’s called “marine snow.” But it takes a long, long time for an appreciable amount to accumulate. Think about the Titanic. At the time it was discovered at the bottom of the middle of the North Atlantic, it had been sitting there undisturbed for about 73 years. Sure there was a bit of sediment on it, but exposed surfaces of the shit were still pretty much entirely unobscured and visible. (Most of what you see covering metal and whatnot is corrosion, not sediment.) https://time.com/4008791/titanic-wreck-photos/

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u/InevitableProgress Sep 22 '21

I work for a telecom, and we get daily underseas cable fault reports. It never occurred to me what the faults are due to since it is not mentioned in the report.

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u/Helpful_Cheek2448 Sep 22 '21

So I used to work for a company who is responsible for installing these kinds of networks and infrastructure on a large scale. They are the ones who supply everything for the residential and business companies like time Warner, century link, Comcast and all those other businesses as well as government installations.

There are a few ways these kinds of lines are installed as you've discussed. There is also some installs that are done in segments in underwater pipelines. These were pretty cool learning about, some of the classes they put me through to become a tech we learned about splicing the fiber lines using electricity. So for example, some of the installs done in NYC and Staton Island were done this way. It was really fun being a part of this kind of install back when cloud networking and VPNs were just beginning. I miss that job even though management was crap, I just loved the tech stuff.

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u/WeirdGymnasium Sep 22 '21

Can you help me. I have tried to google it but I can't find the specific answer.

So in regards to those cross ocean lines: Does one ship carry the entire line the whole way? Is it multiple lines spliced together? Does the ship tow the UK end across the ocean to London and the rest of the line is unspooled from say NYC?

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u/theLuminescentlion Sep 22 '21

https://youtu.be/QfpNpQMYp8M at about the 30 second mark they are standing on top of/inside a spool of cable and the yellow bumps you can see are where it's spliced together already.

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u/WeirdGymnasium Sep 22 '21

Oh wow! Thank you.

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u/Lecoruje Sep 22 '21

What about the Mariana trench? Is it laying on the sea floor or is it floating at some depth?

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u/GooseNipples8 Sep 22 '21

For anyone wondering about the cable being "across" the trench, examine the Mariana Trench Accurate Horizontal Scale section of this:It will clear a lot of misconceptions uphttps://xkcd.com/1040/large/

edit: misspelled a word

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u/Lecoruje Sep 22 '21

Thanks! That cleared my missconception of the trench being a vertical cliff/abyss

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u/KingOfTheYetis Sep 22 '21

Geographically I cant imagine there is any need to run a cable across that trench.

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u/jermleeds Sep 22 '21

There's a whole nexus of cables coming into Guam. Every cable coming in from the east crosses the Trench.

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u/sushibowl Sep 22 '21

Not true actually, Guam sits right next to the Mariana trench and is a fairly major in-between point with cables to places like Japan, Indonesia, Australia and the US. Cables sit on the trench floor at around 9-10km deep

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u/symes Sep 22 '21

Does this extreme pressure effect the cable and transmission of data?

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u/sushibowl Sep 22 '21

Not really. There is no air inside the cable, and the solid materials are effectively incompressible. So hydrostatic pressure from the water has a negligible effect.

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u/DeadBloatedGoat Sep 22 '21

There are only a few through/near the trench area. Guam is a key landing point for cables, but most as a transit to join Japan to the north with SE Asia and Australia to the south. Cable routes generally will try to avoid hazardous undersea geography.

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u/millijuna Sep 22 '21

Part of cable laying involves conducting hyper accurate surveys of the sea floor. The cables must always lay flat on the bottom and not hang. As such they have to plan the route very carefully to achieve this. They also need to strictly control the cable tension so there’s always just enough slack as they’re laying it.

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u/just_a_manatee Sep 22 '21

While I highly doubt there’s a cable that goes across the trench, I remember reading an article bout laying an undersea cable across a trench/valley. What they did was they just lowered the cable into the trench until it touched bottom & then snaked it back up.

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u/ontopofyourmom Sep 22 '21

The "trench" does not have a profile like a canyon, but a valley. The cable is flexible and can lay across it while staying on the ground.

The method you're talking about would severely abrade the surface of the cable. Do you remember where you read the article? I don't doubt that unusual methods sometimes rarely would need to be employed - and this sounds unusual.

Mostly they have ships with big reels of cable that wind off the back and fall to the bottom of the ocean.

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u/iced327 Sep 22 '21

This is the craziest part about this to me. They're just sitting down there on the ocean floor

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u/hackingdreams Sep 22 '21

This is not entirely true, but it's not wrong either. Some cables do just sit on the bed of the ocean, but others are trenched and buried by ROVs with pumpjets or sleds like this one. It's all about the kind of surface it's laying on, the depth of the ocean, and how far away from shore they are.

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u/menasan Sep 22 '21

i watched that whole video and i dont know why

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u/Bobby_Lee Sep 22 '21

The music was so hype tho

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u/mdove11 Sep 22 '21

It’s like a gearing-up montage ahead of a big heist or infiltration in a mid-90’s action movie or show.

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u/w0rdd Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

Same, then went on some mental tangent about making money in niche fields.. The mind is a weird thing

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u/regalshield Sep 22 '21

Oh damn! As I was watching the video, I also started wondering about how much $$$ whoever designed/patented this thing probably makes, lol.

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u/MCA2142 Sep 22 '21

Actually, you can clearly see by the shadow they're projecting in the OP, that they're flying above the oceans.

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u/cubosh Sep 22 '21

yes. and each cable is about 80 miles thick

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u/MisterMysterios Sep 22 '21

Probably has to sit there to allow movement. At this length, movement of tectonic plates becomes suddenly noticeable. They move a few centimeters a year, enough that burying the cables could cause issues.

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u/jrocksburr Sep 22 '21

Probably covered in sediment by now

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u/Lazy_Douchebag_Chao Sep 22 '21

Who paid for, constructed, and maintains these lines?

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u/tylermw8 OC: 25 Sep 22 '21

From submarinecablemap.com's FAQ:

Cables were traditionally owned by telecom carriers who would form a consortium of all parties interested in using the cable. In the late 1990s, an influx of entrepreneurial companies built lots of private cables and sold off the capacity to users. Both the consortium and private cable models still exist today, but one of the biggest changes in the past few years is the type of companies involved in building cables. Content providers such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Amazon are major investors in new cable. The amount of capacity deployed by private network operators – like these content providers – has outpaced internet backbone operators in recent years. Faced with the prospect of ongoing massive bandwidth growth, owning new submarine cables makes sense for these companies.

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u/jeremyjava Sep 22 '21

Holy Bazooka Joe, Batman! I thought there were, like, three Intercontinental submerged lines... between New York and London and one or two others. I had no idea, and I love learning so thanks so much for posting this!

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u/Deeger Sep 22 '21

There were forecast(s) in the early and mid 90s that over stated future internet demand by nearly 10x. Several companies built cables, especially across the Atlantic, and promptly went bankrupt by 2001. That led to US based international internet traffic without any real data caps or a need for more bandwidth until only a few years ago.

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u/iiAzido Sep 22 '21

I was under the impression that there’s more than enough bandwidth to go around and data caps are just a way for ISPs to gouge their customers wallets. Has this changed?

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u/pseudopad Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 22 '21

Off-peak bandwidth usage is "practically" free. The big costs are in the deployment of hardware and maintenance of it, not how "full" the tube is with data.

It's expensive to upgrade equipment to handle higher peak loads, but once it's down, the difference in electricity costs between a node moving 50 GB/s and 100 GB/s isn't very big. It doesn't scale linearly. 100 GB/s doesn't cost 2x as much power as 50 GB/s does, and moving 100 GB/s also doesn't cause twice as much "wear" as 50 GB/s.

This is very different from how road maintenance works, where twice the cars actually does significantly increase road wear, so any argument utilizing an analogy to road traffic as an excuse for whatever internet costs are "fair" is bullshit right off the bat and you shouldn't accept it as an answer.

There's more than enough bandwidth to go around, as long as you're not using it while the entire rest of your continent is using it. Data caps limit total bandwidth usage, but does little to shift usage patterns away from peak load times, which is what an ISP would want if they were actually bandwidth constrained. if they really cared about lowering their own bandwidth costs, they'd zero-rate bandwidth between 11 pm and 7 am to move heavy usage towards nighttime where there is tons of unused bandwidth everywhere.

So tl;d: yeah, data caps are bullshit.

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u/Zbot21 Sep 22 '21

Domestic data is cheap, but international data is more expensive and higher latency. If you live in the US/North America, it's not an issue as 99% of the services most people use have datacenters here, but in other countries it can be a problem. The underseas cables help, but it's not realistic to stream Netflix across the Pacific for example.

Source: work @ Google on globally distributed services

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u/TreChomes Sep 22 '21

Probably not. Speaking as a price gouged Canadian.

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u/YourBrainOnJazz Sep 22 '21

You would be really surprised at the lengths these companies go through to get some silly videos and ads onto your phone screen. For Google, Microsoft and Amazon its understandable that they may need these cables as now they host a large chunk of the internet with their cloud hosting services, but the surprising part is that even companies like facebook will lay down submarine cables just so they can help update the facebook feed in the EU a couple milliseconds faster. Netflix famously puts computers in local cable provider data centers(theres probably some near you too) all over the world with their content so that they dont have to pay the cable companies as much to serve their content. All these major tech companies are also their own ISP’s too. They literally have to call up comcast and att and other local residential service providers to negotiate bandwith agreements so that google doesnt get charged extra when everyone in your neighborhood decides to binge Dude Perfect videos on youtube at the same time. If google and facebook dont do this kind of due diligence before they enter a new market they can literally crush a local service providers internet capacity from customer demand.

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u/leftunderground Sep 22 '21

I don't think Facebook is putting these expensive cables down for a few milliseconds speed increase. At the scale they are working with I imagine it's simply much cheaper to build their own transatlantic cable than to pay someone else for that massive amount of bandwidth. Bandwidth is expensive.

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u/DeusExMagikarpa Sep 22 '21

Holy shit, I didn’t think it was possible but they out backboned the backbone

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u/MmortanJoesTerrifold Sep 22 '21

Can we get a map of ALL large cables just for kicks? Would be really neat to see how they pan out over the continents. Idk what data you’re working with or if you created this or not!

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u/ObjectiveRun6 Sep 22 '21

A friend of mine used to work for the department that record all the cables laid underground in the UK. Their maps were insanely detailed (to the CM) and impossibly big. You could zoom all the way out to see national infrastructure, and all the way in to the specific wires that connect a single home's electricity meter. Really cool shit but very not-on-the-internet.

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u/genreprank Sep 22 '21

Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc. have been investing in backbone for a while now. I guess it's no surprise they'd have undersea as part of that.

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u/NahautlExile Sep 22 '21 Gold

If this interests you, I cannot recommend Mother Earth Mother Board, a 1996 article on the laying of undersea cable and other such fun stuff, enough. It’s written by Neal Stephenson, of Baroque Trilogy and Diamond Age fame.

It’s long though. Strongly recommend the print view.

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u/ilritorno Sep 22 '21

while we're on this topic, also Journey to the center of the Internet from Andrew Blum is a nice read.

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u/belligerentBe4r Sep 22 '21

I prefer cryptonomicon, seveneves, and anathem. Not necessarily in that order. I would have an extremely hard time rating those 3 over each other.

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u/frugalerthingsinlife OC: 1 Sep 22 '21

There are some really cool printable maps/cdn.vox-cdn.com/assets/2100071/submarine-cable-map-2013.png) people have made. But this is the first time I've seen it on a globe, and moving. This is the best representation of the cables I've ever seen. Great job.

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u/[deleted] Sep 22 '21 Helpful

So what you’re saying is the internet is unironically a series of tubes?

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u/ThatFreakBob Sep 22 '21

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u/Princess_Moon_Butt Sep 22 '21

I was gonna ask, are these the cables that are like 3 feet in diameter of rubber and braided fibers all to protect the like 1/4" cable?

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u/Marquis77 Sep 22 '21

Yup! Salt water erosion is insane. And also cuz like…sharks.

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u/row4coloumn31 Sep 22 '21 Helpful

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u/BrosenkranzKeef Sep 22 '21

Like a cat with a shoestring.

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u/Amogus_Bogus Sep 22 '21

Surfshark VPN: dont look sus now

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u/maniaxuk Sep 22 '21

Why was I expecting that to be a screenshot from the end of Jaws II?

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u/Quetzalcoatle19 Sep 22 '21

Just wait till they learn about our satellites.

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u/brp Sep 22 '21

The base cable laid on the ocean floor is less than an inch thick.

They add additional layers of armor and tar soak nylon yarn on top of the base cable close to shore where external aggression is a risk, as well as close to the repeater body hosuings to provide extra tensile strength to support repeater installation and recovery.

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u/NeatOtaku Sep 22 '21

When I was first studying networking there were only 3 of these tubes in the western US. You could literally cut off most of the country by just braking a connection in the bay area.

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u/millijuna Sep 22 '21

I remember the days of MAE-East. They named it as such because when they eventually established it out in California, they could call it “MAE-West”. Yes, I’m old, now get off my Internet lawn.

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u/Broken_Petite Sep 22 '21

Well that’s kind of terrifying.

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u/donny0m Sep 22 '21

It amuses me to think that what we call The Cloud is actually basement datacentres connected by underwater cables.

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u/KingOfTheYetis Sep 22 '21

Same way what we call a conscience is a collection of neurons floating in brain juice.

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u/QuestionMarkyMark Sep 22 '21 Awesome Answer

The internet is actually kept in a small, black box at an office building in London.

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u/grantrules Sep 22 '21

You mean, at the top of Big Ben?

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u/jxe22 Sep 22 '21

That’s where it gets the best reception.

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u/Walterach Sep 22 '21

Guarded by the Elders of the Internet

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u/lookmasilverone Sep 22 '21

But what about the wires coming out of it?!

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u/Csc1392 Sep 22 '21

Titus Andromedon was right all along!

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u/KrypXern Sep 22 '21

At the very least, it's not a big truck.

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u/LovepeaceandStarTrek Sep 22 '21

The glass used in the smf28 fiber used in transatlantic fiber optic cables is so clear that if you put one end up to you eye and the bottom in the ocean, you could see to the ocean floor.

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u/Lifeisdamning Sep 22 '21

The one photon coming from the ocean floor would not be impeded at all in its journey through the optics? I guess that would be the point yeah lol

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u/LovepeaceandStarTrek Sep 22 '21

There is some loss, fractions of decibel per kilometer. But the loss is linear, and that's a huge improvement over freespace light and coax cables.

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u/makeitlouder OC: 1 Sep 22 '21

If you ever get your hands on a big old bundle of optic fiber, you can do this. You basically can see what's at the other end. It's really neat and kind of trippy.

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u/phyzome Sep 22 '21

(Note: Do not actually look into fiber optic, it's a good way to get laser damage to your eye.)

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u/newtsheadwound Sep 22 '21

My dumbass: “why does it go around the land instead of cutting through

reads “submarine”

I’m an idiot

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u/imposter_syndrome1 Sep 22 '21

I did the exact same thing. It’s tempting to expect it to include all the cables there are but alas….nope.

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u/hackingdreams Sep 22 '21

There's so much fiber optic cable buried on land that we don't even know where all of it is. There's trunk lines in the US that are more than a thousand strands deep from back when telecoms were just like "eh, bury a whole bunch of the shit so we don't have to dig ever again. we'll find a use for it sooner or later"... that's a whole lot of fucking bits.

It's why it's so infuriating that internet service in the US is so shitty. They have no fucking excuse. They turn the screws just to see how much the consumers can hurt without building their own secondary networks, then they squeeze local governments to pass laws to prevent municipal alternatives...

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u/derekakessler Sep 22 '21

Overbuilding buried infrastructure is always the smart plan.

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u/superbreadninja Sep 22 '21

Over burying under built infrastructure isn’t however.

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u/Ramm16stein Sep 22 '21

and most of those cable are classified information cause criminals or war.

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u/Brentrance Sep 22 '21

Isn't it mad how, as we age as a species, we find ways to connect us all together. It blows my mind how much we engineer the world, like it's our own personal spaceship that needs building.

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u/cubosh Sep 22 '21

perpetually one step closer to digital-telepathy hive-mind planet

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u/Bagelmaster8 Sep 22 '21

I like how you think. I honestly think that’s where we’re headed. Or it’s at least an interesting possibility

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u/brp Sep 22 '21

What's more mad is that the first transatlantic telegraph cable from North America to Europe was installed before the start of the US Civil War

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u/bravestar3030 Sep 22 '21

technically it is.

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u/tidder112 Sep 22 '21

We are in the infant stage of terra-forming the planet for the borg.

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u/southern_boy Sep 22 '21

Or, ya know... we are The Borg. 💁‍♂️

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u/KrypXern Sep 22 '21

Now we just need to strap rockets to it and ride it around.

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u/gwelfguy-2 Sep 22 '21

Interesting that Guam seems to be the crossroads of underwater cable when it sits right at the edge of the Mariana Trench. That must be very challenging to traverse.

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u/capivaraesque Sep 22 '21

We’re actually in the process of turning earth into a yarn ball - gotta attract those alien cats!

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u/Kenilwort Sep 22 '21

Submarine Cables always make me way less scared about the bottom of the ocean. Like, if there's nothing immediately chewing up these cables with its acidic spores, then it can't be THAT scary down there, right?

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u/shortenda Sep 22 '21

Don't tell them about fiber cuts.

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u/Creator13 Sep 22 '21

Then again, the cables are like 95% heavy armor to protect them from harm. Imagine wearing armor that is 20x your body weight/volume

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u/SoThenISays Sep 22 '21

Now this is why I'm on this subreddit. This data is definitely represented in a beautiful way! Well done, OP.

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u/ebow77 Sep 22 '21

Is the separation between parallel cables with the same endpoints really that large, or are they spread out here to let us see them better? For example at the very start of the video, is there really a series of cables off the coast of Africa, each a couple dozen miles/km farther out?

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u/tylermw8 OC: 25 Sep 22 '21

This network doesn't represent the actual physical paths of the cables, as there would be a lot of overlap (they all travel similar paths).

From submarinecablemap.com's FAQ:

Are the submarine cable paths shown the actual route taken by the cables?

No. The cables routes on our map are stylized and do not reflect the actual path taken by the various systems. This design approach makes it easy to visually follow the different cables and the points at which they land. In real life, cables that cross similar areas of an ocean, take very similar paths. These paths are chosen via comprehensive marine surveys which select routes that avoid hazardous conditions that could potentially damage a cable.

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u/TheShambleDasher Sep 22 '21

The way they are displayed is for clarity. The true positions of these cables are closely guarded secrets and on a strict need-to-know basis.

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u/deall008 Sep 22 '21

This is super cool! Thanks for doing this OP.

You can also try putting it on r/interestingasfuck

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u/TheMeltingSnowman72 Sep 22 '21

Can I just say, what a beautiful render you've created there.

I scrolled as far as I could and everyone's talking about internet speed and couldn't see any praise of the idea behind the visualisation. I know a fancy program did a lot of the work, but what a great imagery.I love the little threads or wires (it's hard to zoom in on the phone) and the way the are held together with little pins and stuff. It's like you want a real one in your room and it would be so fragile to touch.

Brilliant work sir/madam. Thanks for the wonderful aesthetics!

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u/timot6 Sep 22 '21

This is really awesome! It really shows how amazing human beings can be!

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u/stdfan Sep 22 '21

When we are horny nothing can get in our way.

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u/NahautlExile Sep 22 '21

If this interests you, I cannot recommend Mother Earth Mother Board, a 1996 article on the laying of undersea cable and other such fun stuff, enough. It’s written by Neal Stephenson, of Baroque Trilogy and Diamond Age fame.

It’s long though. Strongly recommend the print view.

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u/dontwakeuptoofast Sep 22 '21

They can cross oceans but can’t get fiber to my neighborhood.

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u/Thileuse Sep 22 '21

Ars Technica has a pretty good writeup on submarine cables. Well worth the read.

arstechnica.com

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u/InvMars Sep 22 '21 edited Sep 23 '21

please pay respects for the father of fiber optic Charles Kuen Kao. without fiber optic a lot of wonderful things wouldn’t be possible.

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u/AelixD Sep 22 '21

I call BS. I spent 22 years stationed on submarines and not once were we able to connect to this network. There's no access points, nodes, or availability.

Whats the point of a submarine fiber optic cable network if submarines can't use it?

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u/Holosun21 Sep 22 '21

It’s funny because people think the internet is some kind of “satellite space magic”. Nope it’s actually just a really long cable.

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u/Eiffel-Tower777 Sep 22 '21

Looks sort of like a ball of yarn.

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u/courageousrobot Sep 22 '21

Something that's extra interesting about these cables is that despite what many assume (including here in these comments), these cables are not draped across the bottom of the ocean. That would require a lot more cable than is necessary to account for the changes in depth.

The majority of these cables are suspended, floating under water. There have been instances of being struck by submarines, but it's a rare occurrence and all the cables are well documented and mapped.

These cables are also how a lot of internet surveillance is done. Similar to how governments would tap copper landlines in the past, governments now "optically tap" fiber optic lines to capture everything being sent overseas.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/07/the-creepy-long-standing-practice-of-undersea-cable-tapping/277855/

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