Each year, telecom market research firm TeleGeography releases a map of the underwater cables connecting the global Internet. The firm collects the data for the map from the private companies that operate the cables, such as U.S.-based Level 3 and India’s Tata.
Cables on the sea bed deliver the Internet to the world. Transmitting 99 percent of all international data, they make transoceanic communication between land-based stations possible instantly, and facilitate international trade. (Antarctica is the only continent not yet reached by a submarine cable.)
Submarine communications cables are both reliable and fast, with backup routes available. Because they rarely fail, they’ve become a key part of the global economy and the way in which the world connects, carrying digital data — consisting of telephone, Internet and private data traffic — which includes both corporate and consumer interests.
This year’s vintage-themed 2015 Submarine Cable Map pays tribute to the pioneering mapmakers of the Age of Discovery, incorporating elements of medieval and renaissance cartography, the company explains on its Web site. In addition to serving as navigational aids, maps from this era were highly sought after works of art, often adorned with fanciful illustrations of real and imagined dangers at sea. Such embellishments largely disappeared in the early 1600s, pushing modern map design in a purely functional direction.
ENTRIES OPEN: Establish your company as a technology leader. For 50 years, the R&D 100 Awards, widely recognized as the “Oscars of Invention,” have showcased products of technological significance. Learn more.
TeleGeography’s newest map brings back the lost design aesthetic that vanished along with these whimsical details, to provide a view of the global submarine cable network seen through the lens of a bygone era. TeleGeography referenced a variety of resources in the design process. One of the most invaluable was Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters in Medieval and Renaissance Maps book, which provides arguably the most complete history of the evolution of sea monsters and map design from this period.
While the design is vintage, the data are fresh: the map depicts 278 in-service and 21 planned submarine cables. Latency from the United States, United Kingdom and Hong Kong to several other countries is presented in milliseconds of round trip delay. Capital cities for each country also are provided, and inset infographics provide lit capacity data from 2002 to 2013 for the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, US-Latin America, and Europe-Asia via Egypt routes.
TeleGeography’s latest data appear alongside ornate illustrations depicting common causes of submarine cable faults, steps in the cable laying process and mythical sea monsters. These images include fishing vessels, anchors and trenches on the ocean floor, as well as cable maintenance vessels responsible for repairs. Inset illustrations depicting steps in the cable laying process include the receiving of a submarine cable on shore and the coiling of cable within a ship’s tank. And, of course, the sea monsters add just a bit more fun.
The map can be viewed in an interactive version. It is also available for purchase, printed on Yupo, a high-quality synthetic material, measuring 36 inches x 50 inches (0.9144 m x 1.27 m). It is available both flat and shipped in a tube (recommended for framing or hanging on a wall), or folded (for more convenient storage and transportation).
A division of PriMetrica, TeleGeography is a telecommunications market research and consulting firm that conducts in-depth, primary research on a limited number of key telecom industry subjects. Primary research areas include:
- International networks, undersea cables, service providers and wholesale circuit pricing
- International Internet networks, service providers, capacity, traffic and IP transit pricing
- Enterprise MPLS VPN, Ethernet, dedicated Internet access, and international private line service providers and pricing
- International long distance traffic, service providers, cost and pricing
- Retail mobile, broadband, and fixed-line service providers and markets
TeleGeography is also the founder of the WAN Summit, a biannual conference in New York and London bringing together buyers and providers of enterprise WAN services to identify and discuss trends in international network planning, procurement and design. For more information, visit www.wansummit.com.