Google to build largest Undersea Internet Cable | How the Internet works? | Roles of Cables in Internet Connectivity

6 min readJun 28, 2021

Source : Vismar UK

Did you ever think how the internet really works? How a text message written by you here reaches to the person sitting 12000 km away in New York in a few milliseconds? If you think its all about Wireless connection between your phone and radio signals emitting mobile towers and there is no wire involved in the process you might be wrong as the global internet network needs a lots of wired connections and the wireless connections are not even 10% of the whole network. Global Internet is fueled by a massive network of cables physically connecting each and every country in the world, called 'Undersea internet cables’.

Undersea Internet Cables and its Significance

Map of Submarine Cable Network with a total length of 700K miles

Source : Submarine Cable Map

The invisible and unnoticable undersea internet cables are the driving force of modern internet, breaking the man-made international boundaries and making all our daily online activities, from texting your long distance friend to watching a live streaming of an event happening in thousands of miles away to reading this blog possible. From the very first inter-continental wired connection in 1866 transmissing 6-8 words a minute to Marea cable became operational in 2018 which was 16 million times faster, we have come a long way. With more than 380 operational underwater cables, spanning a length of over 1.2 million kilometres, the global underwater cables network is huge. The undersea cables are so significant yet so unnoticed that most of people using internet don’t even know they exist. Even in the era of mobile networks and wireless connections, data travelling through these cables increased exponentially in last two decades.

How these cables get laid?

Undersea Internet cables laying with the help of ship

Source : CTRL Cable

Laying these undersea cables is not an easy task and it takes many years and millions and millions of dollars. From selecting the best route to laying them using large navy ships in the deepest water possible. "Deeper the better" said Bryon Clatterbuck, Cheif Executive of Seacom, because the more deeper they we lay them, the safer they will be and the chances of occurrence of any problem will also be much lesser due the lesser disturbance. Generally the cables are as deep as the sea bed and stays there forever. The laying of cables near the coast is more difficult and challenging as water is shallow and disturbances are definitely more and establishing and maintaining a secure connection of the cable with the landing station near the sea shore is also vital and a thing that should be cared. For understanding how much time it takes laying an undersea cables, let me give you an example that the Marea cables, about which we have talked earlier too, was 6000 km long, weighing 4.6 million kilograms and its took more than 2 years to lay the entire thing.

Involvement of big players in the undersea cables business

Map of Cables owned by Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others

© Telegeography

Till now we have understood that laying an undersea cables is a very expensive, time and human and machine resource consuming process. In the last decade, undersea cables got most money fuel from the largest fishes in the internet named ocean, like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon, for obvious reasons as their major presense is online, the more and more people will get internet, the more their business will flourish and the investment they will do in these cables will come back to them with huge returns. Its just like how automobile manufacturers give money to banks to give car loans to people like you and me so we can buy cars, and they will get the money they gave to bank from us and then again by the bank with interest, which we are paying obviously. So its a win-win situation for manufacturers and banks.

The ‘largest internet cable’ will not be the longest any more

Source : BBC

Recently the parent company of tech giant Google, Alphabet Inc annouced in a blog post that it lay a single power source undersea cable connecting east coast of US to Brazil Uruguay and eventually Argentina making it the longest undersea cable in the world, it is named Firmina cable after Brazilian abolitionist and author Maria Firmina dos Reis. According to a report, Google owns 1.4% of submarine cables worldwide and when you include shared ownership, the most number will reach to 8.5%. When Firmina cable will be completed, this number might will cross 10%, which is a huge market capture to have for any company. You can understand its hugeness that the ownership of Google is even more than combined ownership of Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook. The main objectives of Firmina is creating Google's dominance in the Latin America region and giving better and improved access of Google's services to the 434 million Latin Americans and getting the early mover advantage too. The timing of this is very important as this decision came at a time when the surge of Google's services are surging rapidly due the pandemic invited lockdowns.

Map of Firmina Cable Network

Source : Google Cloud

Reliance Jio’s announcement regarding India centered undersea cables

Image Source : NDTV Gadgets

In May 2021, Reliance Jio also announced that it will deploy two undersea cables with its global partner SubCom which might be even longer than Firmina, to support the increasing data demand in India and to fuel India’s road to 5G. It will also help Jio to make its global footprints in the cables business, as one will be connecting India directly with Singapore and the other will establish our connection with Middle East and Europe and even the North America. If everything will go according to the schedule, the one cable named India-Asia Xpress (IAX) will be completed till end of 2023 and the India-Europe Xpressway (IEX) will complete in the beginning of 2024. According to the company, IAX and IEX System will have a massive capacity of over 200 TBPS (terabyte per second) and have a combined length of 16000 kilometres. The IAX system will connect Mumbai and Chennai in India to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, while the IEX project extends the country’s connectivity to Italy, landing in Savona, and additional landings in the Middle East and North Africa. To meet the demand of streaming video, remote workforce, 5G (fifth generation), IoT (internet of things), and beyond, Jio is taking a leadership role in the construction of the first of its kind, India-centric IAX and IEX subsea systems," said Mathew Oommen, president, Reliance Jio.

IAX and IEX Cable Network Map

Source : Jio




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