Cablocracy: the history of (and the struggle for) undersea comms

Did you know nations struggle for cablocracy, that is, the control for strategic comms?

In the age of wireless and mobile, few people know that a long net of submarine cables connects the world and allows communications.

Today, more than 99% of international communications are carried over fiber optic cables, most of the undersea.

In total, around 380 underwater cables in operation literally wrap the world. Data reveals that their aggregate length is about  1.2 million kilometers.

They deliver the internet worldwide and are at the same one of the goals and the tools of today’s geopolitics.

Let’s explore what cablocracy is, then.

The history of underwater cable communications

It all started on July 29, 1858, when two-vessel made meeting two ends of a 2,500 mile-long telegraphic cable in the Atlantic Ocean. For the first time in history, an undersea telegraph cable linked North America and Europe.

Continuous improvements to deal with technical failures and speed transmission made wired undersea comms the standard for conveying information worldwide. Indeed, 1956 saw the laying of the first telephone cable. Additionally, by 1988, telephone TAT-8 transmitted 280 megabytes per second.

In sum, undersea cables allow an impressive scale-up of technological standards in less than a century. Nowadays, Internet giants fund additional cable lies to expand the Internet’s reach even more.

Cablocracy: the struggle to control comms

Above, we have outlined a brief history of undersea comms. Now you may wonder what cablocracy is. If you control the cable itself, you may tap it or view information passing through it. Tapping underwater cables is not a novelty in itself.

Since the early days of the Cold War, for instance, the US and USSR invented sophisticated submarines to allow interception of or disrupt the adversary’s cables. However, you should not assume that cablocracy is a historians’ matter. Present struggles in the Pacific Sea suggest a current and sensitive issue.

Generally, every geopolitical strife worldwide involves the main players’ attempt to control comms and undersea.

Conclusion: cablocracy, cables and the future of innovation

To conclude, undersea cables are strategic. Given their pivotal role in delivering information – let it be military, commercial, or private – they are objects of strict regulations.

Their important role made them a tool, and a goal, of international politics. Beyond their critical role in world affairs, they are at the forefront of technological momentum in the comms industry.

Finally, they are crucial to achieve the spread and further the Internet’s reach worldwide.