Marine cables are easily broken. Why not put fiber optic cable on the ground?

Recently, according to the newly updated information of AAG (Asia - America Gateway) undersea cable, there is a problem and it is expected ...


Recently, according to the newly updated information of AAG (Asia - America Gateway) undersea cable, there is a problem and it is expected to be solved by September 3. This is not the first time the AAG cable has encountered a problem this year.

The question is: if the fiber optic cable on the sea floor is so fragile and damaged, why do people not consider plans to place it on land?

The answer is simple: laying an optical cable on land is sometimes easier to break and fail than when laying it on the sea floor.


Laying terrestrial cables is sometimes easier to break than laying them under the sea.

Construction equipment is one of the factors affecting the quality of terrestrial underground cables. Meanwhile, for submarine cables, there are many factors that can affect their durability. For example, boats' anchors, marine life or even natural disasters beneath the ocean.

Repairing undersea optical cables is not an easy task. However, after about 150 years, people have found a number of ways to accelerate this process.

Every time a cable segment goes down, specialized ships for repair work. If the cable is in shallow water, the robot will be used to approach the cable and lift it. However, if the cable is located in deep water, the repair ship will use specialized iron hooks to bring the cable to the water surface, for repair work. To make things simpler, these hooks sometimes cut the broken cable in half and the repair boat lifts each end of the cable to fix it on the water.

Determining the exact location of the broken cable is also a challenge for the repair team and sometimes takes a lot of time for this task.

9 facts about ocean network cables:
1. Installation takes a lot of time and money.
Up to 99% of international data is transmitted by wires on the ocean floor. It is called an underground communications cable. Their total length can reach hundreds of thousands of miles and bury thousands of meters below the sea floor.

These cables are installed by special vessels called cable layers. Not only are the wires removed by clamps connected to the sea, cables often have to be run on the flat surface of the ocean floor and be careful to avoid corals, wrecks and other obstructions.

Cables in shallow water are buried on the ocean floor using high-pressure sprinklers. Although the price per mile of cable varies depending on the total length and destination, the installation of the cable across the sea always costs hundreds of millions of dollars.

2. Sharks are trying to eat network cables
There is a debate about why shark teeth appear on submarine cables. Many hypotheses suggest that it responds to electromagnetic fields on cables. Or simply because it's curious.


Sharks are the eternal enemy of undersea cables. (Photo: YouTube).

The problem is that sharks are still daily biting on cables and sometimes damaging them. To fix this, companies similar to Google are shielding their cables in shark protection devices.

3. Connecting the world via sea cable has existed for a long time
Since 1854, the installation of marine cables began with a transatlantic telegraph cable connecting Newfoundland and Ireland. Four years later, the first successful transmission was made, but the signal quality was still too weak to be used. But in the context of that history, the time of science and technology was underdeveloped. This should be considered a milestone of the underground cable industry.


The first communication line was installed 163 years ago. (Photo: Mentalflos).

4. Fatty bait for intelligence agencies
During the Cold War, the Soviet Union often transmitted weakly coded messages between its two major naval bases and was directly connected by submarine cables within Soviet territorial waters.

US submarines try to find these cables and install a giant phone line. Then came back monthly to collect the signals it had recorded from the Soviet cable.

This activity is called IVY BELLS. Today, the exploitation of undersea communications cables is a standard activity of the intelligence agencies.

5. Governments turn to underground cables to avoid espionage
A major advantage of the US is the possession of a team of scientists, engineers and corporations in inventing and building a large portion of the global telecommunications infrastructure. The world's key cables are largely located on the borders and territorial waters of the United States. This makes eavesdropping easier than ever.

Therefore, some countries are rethinking their Internet infrastructure. Brazil is an example. They launched a project to build an underground communication cable to Portugal. Not only avoiding US territory, this project also excluded US supply and installation companies from the construction list.

6. Underground cables are faster and cheaper than satellites
Satellite is a future technology, born after fiber optic cable but it can not replace this connection. The satellite has a problem with the transfer rate. Sending and receiving signals to and from space takes more time.

Meanwhile, researchers have developed optical fibers that can transmit information at a speed of 99.7% of the speed of light. To find out what the speed of the Internet would be without a cable under the sea, visit Antarctica. It is the only continent with no physical connection to the network.

In the continent, Internet connectivity is based only on satellites, and bandwidth is high. However, Antarctic research stations are producing more data than they can transmit through space.

7. A diving suit and a cable-cutting device are needed to cripple the global Internet
The good news is that underground cables have thousands of volts of electricity running through each strand, and cutting them is very difficult. However, the sad news is that it was cut. In 2013, a rare event occurred in Egypt when men in suits were arrested for deliberately cutting underground cables connecting Southeast Asia - Middle East - West Africa - Europe with a length of 12500 miles and connect three continents. Internet speed in Egypt has been paralyzed 60% until the line can be repaired.

8. Underwater network cables are not easy to fix
When an underground cable is damaged, special repair vessels are dispatched to a suspected location. If the cable is in shallow water, the robot will be deployed to search and pull it to the surface.


Cables deep in the ocean floor need specialized equipment to test replacement. (Photo: Submarinenews).

If the cable is within 2000 m of deep water, a specialized vessel designed to take the cable will lift it to the surface and repair. To make things easier, sometimes the device cuts the broken cable in half and the repair ship lifts the ends and connects them on the water.

9. Underground cable has a life of 25 years
As of 2014, there were 285 communication cables on the ocean floor and 22 of them were unused. This is called a "black cable". Underground cables have a service life of 25 years.

However, over the past decade, global data consumption has exploded. In 2013, Internet traffic was 5 gigabytes per capita. This number is expected to reach 14 gigabytes per capita by 2018.

This increase will obviously cause capacity problems and need to upgrade cables more often. However, new techniques in phase modulation and terminal improvement (SLTE) have increased capacity in some places by up to 8000%. It helps solve data needs for the whole world.

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High Tech Brain: Marine cables are easily broken. Why not put fiber optic cable on the ground?
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