Media streaming, gaming, international video conferencing – these are some things that we use the internet for on an international scale.

Many people believe that international internet consumption is made possible by powerful satellites in space, but this is far from the truth. Data transfer would be much slower if this was the case.

Instead, our internet is powered by a vast network of over 400 submarine cables that sit at the bottom of our oceans.

Submarine cables aren’t exactly anything special. It’s basically a traditional optical network that works underwater! These cables are what make near-instant international communication possible by connecting data centers located in one country to that in another.

The fact is, nearly 99% of all internet traffic travels across one of these cables at some point in its transmission. If you’re browsing the web, streaming video content, or gaming, your data travels from your home or office to your internet service provider (ISP) via coax or fiber optic cables, but this is only the first step. Next, your data is sent from your ISP to a national or international data network. At this step, if you’re consuming data from overseas, it is sent across one of the over 400 submarine cables that power our international internet.

Due to the current network speeds of these subsea cables, it takes less than a second for data to transfer across the ocean. This is a tremendous improvement over the first subsea cable, which took over 17 hours to transfer data from one data center to another.

The reality is, with a growing population of internet users, demand for these international networks is increasing. In addition to this growing population, more and more devices are becoming connected to the internet, which means overall internet usage per person is on the rise as well. With these things in mind, our world requires continued innovation in network technologies that enable us to stay connected.

For more info on how these cables work, check out the infographic below.

About Nick Dmitry

Nick Dmitry is a digital marketing specialist for Infinera – a global supplier of solutions that provide the resilient foundation for the largest and most demanding Tier 1 carrier, internet content provider, cable operator, government, and enterprise networks worldwide.