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New Oceans of Data

A transoceanic building boom is fueling Internet growth.
January 1, 2008

If you want reliable global Internet connections, have a limitless appetite for video, or happen to live in Greenland or East Africa, here’s some good news: a construction surge in transoceanic cable is under way. The new cables will connect the world more closely than ever, add far more bandwidth, and provide enough redundancy for data signals to survive accidents and outages. For now, the trans­oceanic information system has enough ­capacity, but that could soon change, and the system has some physical vulnerabilities. In January, an anchor tore two cables linking Europe and Egypt, causing massive outages. Inadequate cable service forces some areas in developing countries to rely on expensive satellite connections. And the long-term upswing in global video consumption and file sharing is sucking up bandwidth.

It’s a big change from several years ago, when telecom companies were going belly-up from overbuilding their networks. “Essentially, the global telecom bust has become a boom,” says Eric Schoonover, senior analyst at TeleGeography Research, which provided the data for the maps and charts in this graphic. At least $6.4 billion worth of transoceanic cable projects are in the works, with even more on the drawing boards.

Interactive by Alastair Halliday, Charts by Tommy McCall, Data & Telegraphy Research (www.telegraphy.com)

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