How the internet travels across oceans? The hidden journey of your data


It is amazing to read the news or talk to someone on the other side of the world with just one click. But how does all this information travel so quickly across the globe? Let’s find out how the internet really works and how it crosses oceans. Many people think that data is in the cloud, but the truth is, it is in the ocean.

The Internet: A Global Necessity

The internet is an essential part of our daily lives, used for work, school, and leisure. As of January 2021, almost 4.6 billion people worldwide were active internet users, making up 59.5% of the world’s population. Projections suggest that by 2030, there will be more than 7.5 billion internet users, which would be 90% of the world’s population.

How Do We Access the Internet?

Most people connect to the internet through Wi-Fi or phone data plans. But the real backbone of the internet is a network of fiber optic cables. These cables form an information superhighway that connects computer networks across continents. While satellites also play a role in global data transmission, they are less efficient due to latency (delay) and bit loss (data loss). Optical fibers, on the other hand, can transmit information at 99.7% of the speed of light. That’s why cables are the fastest, most efficient, and cheapest way to transfer data across the ocean.

The Scale of Undersea Cables

Today, about 380 submarine cables are in operation around the world, covering over 1.2 million kilometers (nearly 750,000 miles). Antarctica is the only continent without a physical connection to this network, relying instead on satellites. This is a challenge for climate research stations in Antarctica, which produce more data than they can transmit via satellite.

Who Funds These Cables?

Many of the undersea cables have been funded by major internet companies like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon. These companies rely on a fast, reliable internet to provide their services globally.

The Process of Laying Undersea Cables

Laying fiber optic cables across the ocean floor is a complex and fascinating engineering feat. It involves advanced technology, detailed planning, and precise execution.

Step 1: Planning and Mapping Routes

Before any cable is laid, extensive planning is necessary. This includes mapping the ocean floor and finding the safest and most efficient routes. Factors such as underwater terrain, environmental concerns, and geopolitical issues are considered to plot these paths.

Step 2: Manufacturing the Cables

Fiber optic cables are specially designed for their underwater journey. They are made of thin glass fibers covered in protective plastic layers to withstand underwater conditions, pressure, and other potential dangers. The core of the cable carries light signals that transmit data, while the outer layers provide strength and protection.

Step 3: Loading and Transporting

After manufacturing, the cables are wound onto large drums and loaded onto specialized ships equipped for the cable-laying process. These ships have advanced navigation and cable-laying equipment. Loading the cables carefully ensures they are not damaged.

Step 4: Laying the Cables

Laying the cables on the ocean floor is a slow and steady process. The ship releases the cable into the water, gradually unspooling it from the drums. The fiber optic cable sinks to the ocean floor, guided by its own weight and the ship’s navigation. This process is constantly monitored to ensure the cable is laid correctly.

Step 5: Navigating Underwater Terrain

The cable must navigate various underwater terrains, from flat abyssal plains to mountainous mid-ocean ridges. Remote-operated vehicles (ROVs) are often used to lay cables in challenging areas, making sure accurate placement and minimal environmental impact. ROVs provide real-time feedback, allowing for necessary adjustments.

Step 6: Burial for Protection

In shallower areas, where cables are more vulnerable to fishing activities, ship anchors, or natural disturbances, they are often buried beneath the seabed for protection. Specialized plows, towed by the ship or operated by ROVs, bury the cables to prevent damage from human activities and natural events.

Step 7: Testing and Repairs

Once the cable is laid, it undergoes extensive testing to ensure it works properly. If any part of the cable is damaged or faulty, repair ships are sent to retrieve, fix, or replace the affected segment. This makes sure that the cable network remains functional and efficient.

Step 8: Connecting to Shore

The final step is connecting the cable to landing stations on shore. These stations link the undersea cable network to the land-based fiber optic networks, completing the global connectivity chain. Once connected, these cables enable high-speed internet access across continents.

The Significance of Undersea Cables

Undersea cables are vital to modern internet communication. Without these cables, the instant connectivity we enjoy today would not be possible. They enable everything from social media interactions to business transactions, making them an essential part of our digital infrastructure.

The Invisible Force

These undersea cables are the invisible force driving the internet. Stretching across the ocean floor, they form the backbone of our global communication system, ensuring that information flows seamlessly across the globe.


In our digital world, it is easy to forget about the amazing technology behind our everyday internet use. The global network of fiber optic cables makes the internet possible, keeping us connected with the world. Every bit of data you send or receive probably travels through these undersea cables, taking an incredible journey beneath the ocean.

Knowing how the internet travels across oceans helps us appreciate the technology and human effort that keep us connected. From careful planning and manufacturing to laying and maintaining the cables, each step shows the hard work that powers our digital lives. Next time you read the news or chat with someone far away, remember the amazing journey your data takes through the ocean to reach its destination.

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