Saturday, August 30, 2008

A look at undersea cables

Browsing through Digg today, I chanced across this article about Google expanding their undersea cable portfolio. Aside from increasing the inter-Asian bandwidth by over 7Tb/s, it will be Google's 2nd undersea cable, the first being the transPacific cable known as "Unity". As recently as a year ago, the first cable was just a rumor. In February, they confirmed that it would be in place and operational by 2010. The first article I linked to also mentions that Google is looking at an African fiber to replace the aging SAT-3 cable. Offhand, to give you some idea of the magnitude of the new fiber, SAT-3's bandwidth is a paltry 130Gb/s.

What does this have to do with small systems administration? Not much specifically, to be honest, but it's interesting to me. I look at the global fiber network as a maybe a macrocosm of my own network. I look at the global fiber maps and note the critical junctures, the (sometimes lack of) redundant bandwidth in certain corners of the world.

If you're interested in this as well, here are some interesting links that I found. has a couple of pages dedicated to mapping the exact spots where each of the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific cable landings. This is a very, very bandwidth intensive page. Far more interesting are the maps at the top of each page that shows the logical circuits. Here, I'll save you time and bandwidth: Atlantic and Pacific.

This map from CNET gives you some idea of the intercontinental bandwidth available around the globe.

Here is a series of maps showing the history of undersea cables.

If you're curious as to how many cables are out there, Wikipedia has a page dedicated to listing all the cables in the individual bodies of water. The main page on submarine communications cables has a great schematic of the composition of undersea cables. How cool does this look: