Simply by clicking on this article to read it, you’ve sent data through an unbelievably intricate cable system that connects us to our relatives, friends and customers. 99% of international data is transmitted by ‘submarine communication cables’ that are run across the bottom of the ocean to connect country to country.
Unbeknown to many, they are installed by cable-layer boats as part of a painstaking and complicated operation – these cables must run flat along the surface of the ocean floor and so care has to be taken to avoid everything from sunken ships to coral reefs. Due to this, and having to bury the cables at shallow depths by using high-pressure water jets, running a cable across the ocean costs hundreds of millions of dollars. There’s also a surprising and persistent pest to factor in: for some reason sharks have taken a liking to the cables and this has become such a real and wide spread issue that Google has started investing in shark-proof wire wrappers.
Source: Submarine Cable Map
So why put up with all this expense and difficulty when we can spread information wirelessly? With well over a thousand satellites in orbit, it would seem obvious that we’d be moving away from undersea cables. Satellites, much like Wi-Fi, suffer from both latency and bit loss; whereas optical fibres have been developed that can transmit data at 99.7% the speed of light.
With global data consumption set to reach 14 gigabytes per capita by 2018, it almost seems sentimental to think of where this all started in 1854. In this year installation started on the first transatlantic telegraph cable that connected Newfoundland and Ireland. Four years later the following message was sent:
‘Laws, Whitehouse received five minutes signal. Coil signals too weak to relay. Try drive slow and regular. I have put intermediate pulley. Reply by coils’.
As mundane and uninspiring as that may sound, it laid the building blocks for our spectacularly advanced communication network today, making concepts such as global multi-screen video conferencing available to the masses, an idea that Laws and Whitehouse would never have believed possible. Today we have over 500 communication cables siting on the bottom of the ocean transmitting data that fundamentally supports today’s connected, global community.
When discussing connectivity in the workplace, whether network connections or otherwise, it’s unlikely that these undersea cables are going to be referenced. Making up the essential infrastructure of the global economy, these connections are out of sight, out of mind and those who are aware of them are safe with the knowledge that each cable is set to cover 25 years’ worth of growth in data traffic. In this ever evolving technological climate, that’s a pretty future proof concept.
It will reassure many that day to day, employees are unlikely to have to delve into the world of undersea connectivity and are far more likely to have to worry about whether their own devices have a suitable connection to one another to allow them to work productively. That being said, as an industry leading topic of conversation, data transmission on a far wider scale is interesting to understand and the video above gives fascinating insight into our connected world.
At Kensington, we might not be able to help with laying connectivity cables under the sea, but we can certainly ensure your employees are securely connected within the workplace. Get in touch with one of our expert team for more information or follow on LinkedIn for further updates.