In a “parable” I wrote some time back, I indicated that it made sense for companies such as Google to build their own international backhaul capacity or enter into joint ventures to build the cables. Telegeography says it is so: But there is a cautionary note. A lot of the build—or a lot of the demand for new capacity build is coming from content providers. Really big content providers. And within that group just a handful of companies.
Looks like I did not get it exactly right with my parable. I thought joint ventures. Instead Google is building a parallel track. In recent years, content providers have outpaced carriers in terms of their capacity demand on major routes. Considering the scale of their bandwidth deployments, it increasingly makes sense for them to collaborate on new systems as part owners rather than as customers.
Few weeks back we reported, without endorsement, a New York Times piece about the possibility of sabotage of trans Atlantic cables. Sabotage is a real threat, says cable expert Doug Madory, but not on the US-Europe routes. The thing that might not be widely appreciated is the fact that telecommunications lines are also sabotaged with some regularity. Perhaps the most relevant incident to this discussion involved divers (pictured right) who were arrested by the Egyptian Navy in March 2013 for detonating underwater explosives off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, ostensibly in an attempt to scavenge for scrap metal. The incident damaged SeaMeWe-4, causing major disruptions to Internet service across the Middle East and South Asia.
Undersea cable operators have a nasty habit of laying cables close to each other. When they get cut, they tend to go in sets. The first question I have is why Maldives would lose 100% of traffic when it is connected by two undersea cables, one to Colombo and the other to India. That’s serious redundancy, especially for a tiny country of 300,000+ people. I can understand the traffic on Reliance’s Flag system going down because it was Atlantic focused.