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Undersea Cable Map Shows Where The Data Pipes Are 97

overThruster writes with a report from TechCentral that "Greg Mahlknecht has built a free map showing the world's submarine telecommunications cable systems. The map, which took Mahlknecht several months to complete, is free of charge and will remain so.'" (At least until it gets shut down as a security threat.)
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Undersea Cable Map Shows Where The Data Pipes Are

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  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @03:54PM (#36767256) Homepage
    This looks very similar to the maps of the undersea telegraph and telephone lines from around a hundred years ago. See, e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1901_Eastern_Telegraph_cables.png [wikipedia.org] This shouldn't be that surprising since the basic idea of the technology (large underwater cables to transmit information) is the same, the population centers a hundred years ago are not that far off from the population centers today, and the geoological constrains are similar also.
    • VERY interesting. Thanks for sharing that link. Aside from the new cables between the US and Asia, you're absolutely correct in that most of it is very similar.

    • by albertid ( 1905910 ) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @04:22PM (#36767762)
      Nice observation! An even older communication system also resembles the pipes to some degree, namely the major trade routes from 1400-1800: http://people.hofstra.edu/geotrans/eng/ch5en/conc5en/tradeflows14001800.html [hofstra.edu]
    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      New Zealand's south island had telegraph but doesn't have broadband? Me thinks this new map is incomplete!

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        I'm not sure if those telegraph lines from Sydney are going to nowheresville in the South Island or Wellington, my money would be on the latter, as routing the lines over the Southern Alps to the population centres in the South Island would not make sense, and they are too far North to be going to Greymouth, which is about the only notable population centre on the West Coast of the South Island. Interesting that one of the internet cables from Sydney is shown approaching Manukau harbour but labelled as lan
    • From the point of view of the US or Europe, maybe. Look at the waters around Africa, there's a whole lotta difference, especially in the next couple of years.
    • Comparing the old and new maps, it looks like the old telegraph system had a more robust connection between Europe and South America than is found today. Given that the 'B' in "BRIC Countries" [wikipedia.org] is for Brazil, I would have thought that there would be at least a couple major pipes linking Europe and South America directly (through Brazil), instead of via North America. Granted the possibility of the connection between North and South Americas being interrupted is slight, but still...
    • by jrumney ( 197329 )
      The cables don't necessarily land in population centres. In Malaysia, there are a few cables landing in Penang and Malacca, with total bandwidth of a little over 1Tbps, but on the other side of the peninsular, which is less populated but facing Japan and US, there are two cables landing in small towns with bandwidth of over 2Tbps, and a third cable that is just under 1Tbps. Surprisingly, no cables land in the Klang area, where population is most concentrated. I expect some very high bandwidth cables betwe
      • by jrumney ( 197329 )
        Actually, I just realised that the cables landing in Penang and Malacca support your point that these cables are following the old telegraph routes, as Penang and Malacca were important colonial settlements up until WW2.
      • Cable landing points are usually chosen in quiet areas: no shipping means less chance of some doofus dragging his anchor through the cable and causing the nautical equivalent to backhoe fade.

    • The most obvious changes for me are the development of Guam and Hawaii as hubs of the pacific, where in the telegraph world Hawaii was an outpost and Guam wasn't on the map. Otherwise, it's surprising how similar the two maps are, even the level of development around the coast of Africa, which, although greater now was surprisingly developed in the telegraph world.
  • Tubes (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 14, 2011 @03:55PM (#36767296)

    So it is a series of tubes. I knew it.

  • Svalbard is an island in the Arctic Circle, with no permanent population. Why does it have a 5TB cable terminating there?
  • by Anne_Nonymous ( 313852 ) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @04:04PM (#36767444) Homepage Journal

    ...but I recall Neal Stephenson's article [wired.com] on undersea cables was very interesting.

    • by miasmic ( 669645 )
      Good call, even though it's 6-7 years since I read that, it sprung to mind when I was looking at the map and I was planning on looking it up again.
    • Calling it an article is quite the understatement. I've seen novels that are shorter. Still well worth the read though.

  • Antarctia? (Score:5, Informative)

    by pz ( 113803 ) on Thursday July 14, 2011 @04:08PM (#36767528) Journal

    Is there no cable to Antarctica? Hmm... (type, type, click, click) ... Oh, I see:

    Antarctica is the only continent yet to be reached by a submarine telecommunications cable. All phone, video, and e-mail traffic must be relayed to the rest of the world via satellite, which is still quite unreliable. Bases on the continent itself are able to communicate with one another via radio, but this is only a local network. To be a viable alternative, the fiber-optic cable must be able to withstand temperatures of -80 C as well as massive strain from ice flowing up to 10 meters per year. Thus, plugging into the larger Internet backbone with the high bandwidth afforded by fiber-optic cable is still an as yet infeasible economic and technical challenge in the Antarctic.

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_communications_cable [wikipedia.org]

    • We should get working on that! After all, those male penguins need their porn while they're sitting on those eggs...
  • "Cable is a schematic representation of the connectivity. Path might not be geographically accurate, and branching configuration is a best-guess."
    • It's interesting how many of the cables seem to be fairly precise, and others are clearly guesses or approximations.

      Look at the three lines that terminate in Seattle. One of them is extremely precise, with weaving and meandering even at the nearest zoom levels. One of the others is so approximate that it crosses over islands as it goes from point to point.

      • That's pretty much due to how accurate the published data is. Some network operators have turn-by-turn directions of thier fiber paths in urban areas.. others only publish "it goes from pt A to B.. that's all you need to know".

  • Interesting where it shows cables making landfall. In the Los Angeles area, it shows Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and Hermosa Beach. I was pretty sure the cable coming in south of LAX made landfall through ShitPipe, 4 miles north.

    • Interesting where it shows cables making landfall. In the Los Angeles area, it shows Diablo Canyon nuclear plant and Hermosa Beach. I was pretty sure the cable coming in south of LAX made landfall through ShitPipe, 4 miles north.

      The locations for those cables are schematic and not necessarily accurate. Don't know about the LA-area ones, but I believe the cable landings in the San Luis Obispo area are in the Morro Bay area and Grover/Shell/Pismo Beach area. At any rate, I remember that there is a major interconnect in the Los Osos area near Morro Bay where a couple of major undersea cables are hooked together.

  • How do they lay out these cables? Are they on the bottom or floating & anchored? Are there repeaters? Anywone know where I can read about it?
  • By my count it looks like there is a total capacity of about 30 Tbps between the U.S. west coast and Japan, and only about 20 Tbps between the east coast of NA and all of Europe. Seems strange given the relative distances.

    • Looks like the trans-pacific cables are newer than the trans-atlantic, might just be an artifact of whatever the technology was at the time the cables were installed.
    • Clearly Europeans aren't big fans of tentacle rape pr0n.
  • From TFA: (At least until it gets shut down as a security threat.)

    Looks like it's already been slashdotted, so they won't need to.
  • Cool map but it is missing some. SEA-ME-WE-2, the Southern cross(listed on the side but not on the map) FIJI needs high speed internet too! The ADEN-DJI crossing the mouth of the gulf of Aden, I could go on. Point being that there is a LOT of undersea cables, this map shows some.
  • Yikes. I worked in West Africa for a few years, and we dreamed about the day when SAT-3 would bring us more than a couple of satellite T1s. Next year, they are getting over 10Tbps capacity, and almost more importantly, it's coming in separate, redundant cables.

    It's hard to imagine what that's going to do.

    Now, if they could only keep their cable landings and their terrestrial infrastructure working.

  • In europe and north america the cables come accross the sea and then land at a small number of places.While in africa, the middle east and other underdeveloped areas they tend to follow the coast with loads of landings. It would appear that in these areas undersea cables are being used as a substitute for land based infrastructure because countries don't trust their neighbours.

    • It's also cheaper: most of the cost in the undersea cable will be paid for by companies outside the country (since the landing is only a small part of the cable).
      And it's more reliable. Stringing a cable overhead through jungle/desert/what have you isn't exactly foolproof. Burying the cable is a huge infrastructure project, way too expensive for those countries.

  • This was a childish thing to do, in the same registry as "Look, no hands!". Now terrorists know where the comm pipes are. Sometimes it is better to think before you act.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The routes are (a) made from sources publically available on the internet, and (b) not accurate enough to find from the map.

      Even if they did know where a cable was, they're buried a meter deep in the ocean floor until they get into deep sea. The terrorists can't even make a set of exploding underpants, they're not going to be able to sabotage the cables!

  • It has more bandwidth running through it than Hawaii. Is that for the world's largest K-Mart?
    • by EQ ( 28372 )

      It has more bandwidth running through it than Hawaii. Is that for the world's largest K-Mart?

      One explanation is the US Dept of Defense. Guam is a large military logistics center

      Another point is that Guam is legally US territory, so US law applies there, whcih can be handy for certain commecial ventures, as well as for military/defense/intelligence data transit

      Plus Guam looks to be a handy location in terms of landing a cable there as a reshape/regent/retransmission (3R) redistribution point prior to going back into the water (look at the geography)

  • He has successfully replicated the same map I get from telco carries over couple of years. WAY TO GO!
  • And the price for best connected island goes to... Guam! If you zoom satellite view in to the north-western airport, you can see at least four B52s. And the main road is called "Marine Corps Drive". I guess those guys need a lot of porn.
  • What security threat? You don't need a map. Just cruise the coast looking for signs that say DO NOT ANCHOR OR DREDGE. The US military figured that out decades ago.

    And no you can not make them more secure by not putting up those warning signs because someone will anchor or dredge and cut the cable.

  • ... but the cablemap app was really annoying, it slowed Firefox down like hell, and there was no way (that I could discern) of easily seeing the whole world map at a high resolution, so I made some screen caps and put them together in Photofiltre. I gave the author credit in several places on the map.

    http://db.tt/UEjKBo5 [db.tt]

    • by eyenot ( 102141 )

      In retrospect, saving it as a 16-color .GIF wasn't a hot idea, but it looked better before I saved (a bug in Photofiltre). I should've saved in 32 colors. Oh, well. It was only 31 caps and I still have all of those and the progress .BMP of composite-1-20 (eleven caps to go). If anybody was really interested in a better version, I could make it, but to tell you the truth, the actual thing isn't any more legible than the 16-color .GIF . . . just being honest.

      • by cffrost ( 885375 )

        If anybody was really interested in a better version, I could make it [...]

        Thank you, good buddy. Will you please save one as .png and just let loss-less compression optimize for color-count?

        • by eyenot ( 102141 )

          *shrug* I never paid any attention to png. I thought it was like a step away from raw bmp or something, and hence was why it was always seen being used with tiny, tiny images.

          If you can tell me why it would be better to save it as png rather than a 32-color .GIF (which, btw, is also loss-less compression, although from about ten years ago comes with a potential legal and financial liability) then I'll do so.

          In either case, if you at least say you want to have the image in a better format no matter what form

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Basically a bunch of fat pipes heading straight down to SA, and a series of drops at random locations on the way.

  • ... Basslink too! Fantastic. What a great resource.

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (9) Dammit, little-endian systems *are* more consistent!