A Particularly Competitive Space Amongst The Major Technology Companies. It Has Spawned The Phrase ‘Cloud Wars’ To Describe The Battle.
“The fact you can post a picture on Facebook or video on YouTube and people can see it anywhere in the world is mind-boggling, but it takes a lot of things behind the scenes and below the ocean to make it happen,” says Alan Mauldin, research director at TeleGeography.
It is easy to overlook that our access to the internet relies on thousands of miles of cable, crossing the world’s oceans. They provide the plumbing for the internet – 98% of all international internet traffic travels through them. Some connect neighbouring countries, such as the 131km (80 mile) CeltixConnect cable between Ireland and the UK. Others like the Asian-America Gateway cable, stretch for 20,000km and link continents.
The data flashes along optical fibres as thin as a strand of hair. Each cable will have several of these at its core and then further layers of protective coating to prevent damage. According to Daniel Sousa, managing director of manufacturing operations at SubCom, one challenge is that “the entire cable systems need to be manufactured and tested as a complete system”.
Cables are tested ashore before being loaded on to ships, a process which can take around two weeks, says Orange Marine’s chief executive Didier Dillard. The company operates six cable ships, with one vessel, the René Descartes, able to lay up to 6,000km of cable. Once telecom companies would have been the main backers of such complicated and expensive projects. But now technology giants have started putting serious money into undersea cables.
TeleGeography estimates that content providers – Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft – have spent over $1.5bn (£1bn) on cable construction in the last five years. The simple reason is that they have more demand for bandwidth than anyone else, says Alan Mauldin. Google, in particular, is investing in a number of its own cables. The Curie cable connects Chile to the US – while the Dunant cable, laid in partnership with SubCom, connects the US to France at Orange’s cable landing station at Saint-Hilaire-de-Riez.
Two others will be finished soon. The Equiano cable running from Portugal down the west coast of Africa to South Africa, and the Grace Hopper cable that connects the US, UK and Spain. Ensuring reliable access to the services many of us rely upon, as well as expanding access to previously underserved areas, are two reasons for this investment.
But it is also an investment in Google’s cloud computing services – A Particularly Competitive Space Amongst The Major Technology Companies. It Has Spawned The Phrase ‘Cloud Wars’ To Describe The Battle For Ascendancy Amongst Them. Cloud Computing Has Become A Huge Business As Firms Have Moved Their Computing And Digital Storage Needs To Services Like Amazon’s AWS And Azure From Microsoft.
This news was originally published at BBC.