Why a Wireless World Relies on Underwater Cables

Comedians Jay Foreman and Mark Cooper-Jones of Map Men amusingly explained the history of early cable laying in the late 19th century, which directly led the way to the modern internet.

Did you know that the internet is held together by a network of undersea cables? And did you also know that these cables can trace their origin back to 1850s? What has and hasn’t changed in the last 150 years may surprise you.

They also looked at the current state of affairs, noting where the most cables connect and what would happen if these cables start to fray or otherwise be damaged.

These cables are susceptible to breakage due to sabotage from hostile countries, earthquakes and being eaten by sharks. So it makes sense to have at least a couple of spares. …More importantly the cables under the sea carry about $10 trillion worth of financial transactions every day. And if those cables failed, nobody would be able to buy pink suitcases, funny hats, teddy bears or basketballs.

They also point out, that although we live in a world of wireless technology, these undersea wires are still very much in existence and being build and maintained by familiar players.

So if these cables are so completely critical to life in 2023 or whichever year it is where you are shouldn’t we be worried about who actually owns them? Yes we should. Because increasingly these cables are being built by a very…small handful of powerful companies. Google, Microsoft and Meta have spent billions of human dollars building their own massive private cables And this matters partly, because we all then become dependent on these largely unregulated companies for a crucial piece of 21st century infrastructure.

Underwater Cables