Ever wonder what it takes to make it possible for you to visit gazillions of websites? I suppose we wonder only when there is a disturbance in the web, as it happened a few days ago when five undersea fiberoptic cables mysteriously snapped and some parts of Middle East and India were affected. So I did a little futzing around the web and found a pretty good write up on one cable system — the FLAG: the Fiberoptic Link Across the Globe. The report is really really long and really really informative. It is also old — written in 1996, when FLAG was still being laid. Go read the report Mother Earth Mother Board. It makes great weekend reading.
Here’s a contemporary map of the amazing physical world wide web which underlies the digital world wide web.
[Click on the image above to see an enlarged version.]
Here are some fun facts taken from the above image.
* The vast majority of the world’s communications are not carried by satellites but an altogether older technology: cables under the earth’s oceans. As a ship accidentally wipes out Asia’s net access, this map shows how we rely on collections of wires less than 10 cm in diameter to link us all together.
* The first intercontinental telephony submarine cable system, TAT-1, connected N . America to Europe in 1958 and had an initial capacity of 640 kilo bytes per second (kBps). Today that is about 7 trillion Bps — a 10 million time increase.
* SeaMeWe-3 is 39,000 kms long
* Southern Cross is 30,500 kms
* China-US is 30,500 kms
* FLAG Europe-Asia 28,000 kms
* South America-1 25,000 kms