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Connecting the World Under the Sea

This article is published in collaboration with Statista

by Florian Zandt

Even though it's not yet in use, the 2Africa submarine communications cable network is already one of the biggest in the world, spanning 37,000 kilometers and connecting 23 countries in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. The project is partially funded by Facebook and will most likely break the records for both the longest and the youngest submarine cable system once its operational.

As our chart shows, the current leader built by Fujitsu and Alcatel connecting Australia, New Zealand and the US started its service in November 2000 and encompasses a length of 30,500 kilometers across the Pacific. Most of the longest submarine communications cables are rather old by today's standards, with AAE-1 as a notable exception. The system running along a similar route as the FEA cable taken into service in 1997 was initiated by telco providers China Unicom and Telecom Egypt, supplying 17 carriers over its length of 25,000 km.

Facebook hasn't been the only member of the Big Four investing in submarine communications systems. In fact, they recently partnered up with Google to fund the Apricot project, a sub cable aiming to connect Japan, Singapore and other countries in the APAC region by 2023. The technology is not without its controversies though. Heat, electromagnetic emissions, noise and chemical pollution are possibly contributing to the loss or damage of submarine habitats, with research on the matter only picking up in the last couple of years even though undersea cables have been around for over a century.

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