• Cables that Connect the World – Submarine Cables
    29th September 2021

    Cables that Connect the World – Submarine Cables

Do you know about the world’s longest subsea cable? What’s the lifespan of subsea cables? Let’s see how many of these amazing facts you are aware of.

In describing the system of cabling, our world is a spaghetti-work of super long cables. But what we see is just a small fraction of the physical lines of wires. The rest of it can be found buried in the deep rock bottom of cold oceans that link continents.

Interestingly, 99% of international data is transmitted by cables that span thousands of miles across ocean floors called subsea cables. Also known as submarine communication or transatlantic cables, they are laid beneath the seabed by special boats called cable-layers to carry telecommunication and internet signals across stretches of ocean between land-based stations. Cables at shallow depths are buried beneath the ocean floor with the use of high-pressure water jets.

Brush up your brain neurons to know these 5 astonishing facts about submarine cables.

Built to last

As of early 2021, there are approximately 426 submarine cables in service around the world. The life expectancy of a submarine cable is 25 years during which they are considered economically viable from a capacity standpoint, although they could last longer assuming minimal aggression over their lifespan. Technology upgrades and improvisations in laying operations can minimize tension and prolong their life.

Super-long distance

At 39,000 km long, SEA-ME-WE3 or South-East Asia – Middle East – Western Europe 3 is the world’s longest submarine cable network, connecting 33 countries across 4 continents (from Western Europe to Australia and East Asia). That’s about 1/10 of the distance from the earth to the moon. The total submarine cables network put together covers more than 550,000 Miles.

Repair- Not your average IT job

Undersea avalanches, trawling fishing vessels, ship anchors and shark bites can damage submarine cables. Breaks were more common in the early cable-laying era due to the use of relatively crude materials, but with improvisations in cabling technology they have reduced.

Once the repair ship arrives at the fault location, it takes anytime between 16 hours to three days to recover and repair the cable depending on the water depth- the deeper the water the longer it takes. To repair in deep waters the damaged portion is retrieved onto the surface by deploying special repair ships. Grapnels are lowered to cut the cable at the seabed and separately pull up each end for patching above water by splicing in a new section. The repaired cable being slightly elongated is deliberately lowered back on the seabed in a “U” shape. If the cable is in shallow waters or close to the surface, submersible robots are deployed to grab and haul up cables for mending.

First subsea cable laid

The first undersea telegraph cable was laid in the 1850s beneath the English Channel to link British and French networks. Initiated in 1854, the project was completed in 1858. The first telegram communication exchanged between two continents was a letter of congratulations from Queen Victoria, UK to President of US. However, after three weeks the cable’s insulation failed, and the connection was lost.

After four failed attempts later the first reliable trans-Atlantic cable was successfully put into service in 1866 making instant communications possible between North America and Europe.

The only disconnect

Every continent on the planet is connected to the internet by a series of undersea fiber optic cables except Antarctica, due to its extreme cold temperatures, constant shifting of its icy surface and scanty population. Due to such challenging environments, the continent still receives the internet from a few satellite systems.

Today, nearly 100% of the world’s intercontinental electronic communications traffic is virtually carried by the undersea cable infrastructure using fiber optic technology to transmit information at the speed of light. All telephone traffic, internet signals and digital communications across the ocean travel via these cables. Without cable networks, the world would have isolated continents devoid of any terrestrial connectivity.

Electric Way- Leading provider of Marine Cabling Solutions

When it comes to marine systems connectivity, Electric Way, top cable distributors in UAE, are here to help you with high-quality marine cabling solutions designed to withstand challenging maritime conditions. Our comprehensive range of marine and offshore cables include power, control, signal and instrumentation cables that are used for shipboard wiring, offshore platforms, and other at-sea installations for oil drilling and production. The cables are designed to withstand extreme temperature changes and exposure to moisture, oil and solvents. We also supply cable accessories that include protective armor and jacketing options, anchoring and terminations.

Contact our team on +971 4 817 0777 or send an email to to learn more about our cables and wires!

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