Subsea Cable Systems – The Lifeline of Global Communications


In this blog post, EXA Infrastructure’s Senior Business Development, Subsea, Francois Malterre delves into the fascinating world of how new subsea cable systems come to life, sharing his personal insights into the changing landscape and growing demands from increasing data traffic and meeting customer expectations in an increasingly complicated world of connectivity.

In today’s hyperconnected – real time digital world subsea cable systems play a vital yet often overlooked role in making this possible. Deep below the shoreline of our oceans, the unsung heroes of our digital age transport the burden of global internet traffic, phone and video calls, as well as all end user generated content.

landscape of subsea cable systems is undeniably changing, and from a personal perspective, it's a transformation that is both exciting and reflective of our evolving global connectivity needs. I have witnessed the growth of the internet and the critical role of these undersea marvels, I can't help but be fascinated by the current shifts in this landscape.

Growth at the speed of light

First and foremost, it's clear that the demand for connectivity is ever-increasing by a scale nobody had really anticipated back 20 years ago. Our world relies on the internet for more aspects of our daily lives than ever before. With the proliferation of smartphones, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), and the constant need for high-speed data transfer, subsea cable systems – as well as terrestrial fibre networks are under great pressure to meet these demands. The expansion of digital services, cloud computing, and video streaming has only intensified this need.

The changing landscape of subsea cable systems is reflected in the sheer number of new cable projects that have been announced or are currently in progress. This is a testament to the adaptability of the industry, which is constantly working to keep pace with the rapidly evolving technology and infrastructure requirements. I see this dynamism a sign of the resilience and ingenuity of the telecommunications and cable industry.

Futureproofing connectivity

It's not just about quantity but also quality. New subsea cable systems are being designed to be more resilient, with improved redundancy from new landing stations popping up across emerging hotspots in Europe, such as Italy, France , Spain and Portugal. Today we’re also seeing better protection against natural disasters and human such as fishing trawling. These enhancements are critical, as they ensure the stability of global communications, even in the face of unforeseen challenges.

As we look at global traffic trends, we’re seeing Europe as the gateway of connectivity with data traffic from Africa and Asia surging. In 2022, Africa had around 570 million internet users with social media, online shopping and fintech growing in popularity and rising internet penetration, according to Statista. The demand for content both within and outside of Africa is growing. Last year, EXA and WIOCC Group, Africa’s leading provider of converged open access digital infrastructure, whereby announcing the signing of a new deal for capacity on a new terrestrial transport route interconnecting Africa and Europe, out of Lisboa.  

The shift in the subsea cable system landscape is also marked by the diversification of routes and destinations. While transatlantic and transpacific cables have been the backbone of global connectivity, new routes are being explored, connecting previously underserved regions. This democratisation of connectivity is something that resonates, as it brings the promise of improved access and opportunities to areas that were once digitally isolated.

What lies beneath

Various sources point to the fact that undersea cables account for 90-95% of the world data traffic. Just to mention one key sector to todays’ world economy, financial markets utilise undersea cables to transfer trillions of dollars every day. A such, the evolving landscape of subsea cable systems is a reflection of our modern society's insatiable appetite for connectivity and totally interconnected digital economies. From the expansion of routes and destinations to the emphasis on sustainability, these changes are not only necessary but also positive indicators of progress. As someone who has witnessed the digital revolution, I am excited to see how these undersea cables continue to shape our world, making it smaller and more connected with each passing day.

Read more: Riding the data wave and pioneering connectivity under and beyond the sea










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