Undersea Cable Ships, Cables, & the People that Help Facilitate the Global Internet

Photo by David Meyer/ZDNet UK

Aboard an Alcatel-Lucent undersea cable ship
September 5, 2010

The Ile de Batz is one of three dedicated ships that Alcatel-Lucent uses to lay the submarine fiber-optic cables that carry broadband connectivity across the oceans.

The ship is usually based in Calais, France, but made a stop recently in Greenwich, England, to pick up components from Alcatel-Lucent’s factory. The telecommunications infrastructure company invited ZDNet UK to see the factory and the ship, and have a look at a vital part of the global Internet that’s normally hidden by miles of water.

The Ile de Batz usually spends between 30 and 40 days at sea on each voyage. It can lay up to 200 kilometers (120 miles) of cable per day, in normal conditions, to a depth of about 8km. That cable and its components are expected to have a lifespan of about 25 years.

Also see:
+ “Ile de Brehat” cable ship loading submarine cables (video)
+ CableMap.info!
+ Fujitsu Submarine Network Solutions
+ Mitsubishi Communications Systems
+ Submarine branching unit patent
+ Wikipedia: Transatlantic telegraph cable
+ Wikipedia: Submarine Communication Cable
+ Submarine cable map from Telegeography
+ Pressure vessel joint for repeaters in submarine optical communication systems
+ Aboard the ship that helps keep SA connected — a photo essay
+ Glo One Submarine Cable Debuts in Lagos (Nigeria)
+ Mother Earth Mother Board By Neal Stephenson (about the FLAG: Fiberoptic Link Around the Globe)
+ Internet traffic report
+ (From cables to wireless) World map of wireless connectivity

(Perhaps Ted Stevens was right when he said the internet is a “series of tubes.”)