Most consumers do not realize how the data travels from your home over the Internet to its destination and then back again. Some may assume that being connected at home, just means you are tapped into the Internet and everything is just there running down a cable just outside of your home. The reality is, the Internet is so vast and connected, that continents are connected by fiber optic cables running under the seas which keep everything connected around the globe.
This interconnected submarine cable network connects the United States and other countries together so that we can communicate with everyone from Skype calls to playing video games with one another and from banking transactions to even Internet warfare. The entire underwater cable network is managed by 44 vessels which are responsible for new installations, repairs and on going maintenance of more than 300 submarine cables with some like the SEA-ME-WE-3 or otherwise known as the South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 3 is over 24,000 miles long with 39 landing points. This particular fiber optic line can transfer up to speeds of 1 Tbps (Terabytes per second)! Just imagine how much data could be flowing through this one of three hundred unique cables under the sea, sitting on the seafloor of the ocean.
The United States believes that the next and perhaps the most devastating tech warfare could be that of a foreign military attempting to cut these cables in the time of conflict or war. The cables that run close to shore and not quite as deep, are often very armored and bulky as they must withstand weather and even ships dragging anchors. However, the cables that run across large oceans are much thinner and less armored from the elements, which also includes potential sabotage.
Just this past week, the United States Military has noticed an uptick of Russian submarines and spy ships operating near vital undersea cables, as tension between the United States and Russian increases. While they do not believe any wrong doing as been done, Russia could still be attempting to map out and identify the underwater fiber optic cable network. The United States Department of Defense also has undisclosed cables that interconnect across the globe and Russia could also be searching for these.
If you are interested in learning more about the cables under the sea, the TeleGeopgrahy has a great detailed map of where the cables are and how they interconnect.