Cut Cable Conspiracy
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Ever since the Internet debuted nearly two decades ago, we've been bombarded with an economic and technological reality that can be summed up in one word: globalization. The world is becoming more and more unified every day, at least in terms of telecommunications. But what if something happened that took an entire region of the world offline? Keep reading.
Toward the end of January and the beginning of February 2008, up to five high-speed Internet submarine communications in the Middle East and across the Mediterranean were damaged, creating countless interruptions and stoppages for Internet users across the Middle East and India. If you're like me, the first time you heard that actual cables are laid out from country to country in order to facilitate Internet connectivity, you probably hesitated for a second, thinking it was a joke. Couldn't anyone with the means and malicious intentions just go find and damage any vulnerable part of it? I mean, don't we have satellites and wireless connectivity nowadays?
As you can see, I don't know what I'm talking about; in fact I can barely dress myself. So if you are like me, you should be ashamed to show your face in public...but I digress. Apparently submarine communications cables do exist and they play a major role in telecommunications. Today's cables all use something we like to call fiber optics, which basically means they use fibers made of glass and plastic designed to carry light down their length. The typical cable is around 70 mm in diameter and weighs 10 kg per meter. Every continent, except Antarctica, is linked through submarine cables.
(Submarine Cable Cross-Section)
The first incident occurred on January 23, 2008 somewhere off the coast of Iran in the Persian Gulf. It wasn't reported at first (probably to stem random speculation), but the system affected was FALCON. It is run by Flag (Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe) Telecom in India and connects countries throughout the Middle East. At first, this was brushed off as a minor incident, hence no one reported it. But as I mentioned earlier, this was just the beginning of a spurt of incidents all affecting pretty much the same area.
One only wonders why system redundancy isn't put into effect to quell outages resulting from cable damage. Redundancy is when certain components of a system are duplicated to increase reliability in the event of a breakdown in the system. Disruptions on the scale of what we're talking about in this article are indeed rare, but in December 2006, an earthquake near Taiwan damaged undersea cables and caused extensive disruptions.
If you want to know the exciting details surrounding this story, and especially what's causing this damage, please continue on to the next section.
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