Your Digital World Rides On Subsea Cable!

Posted on November 29, 2017

Your Digital World Rides On Subsea Cable

Not many of us are aware that the global undersea cables network carries almost 100 per cent of the intercontinental electronic communications traffic. From allowing us to make phone calls to enabling us to conduct critical financial transactions and deal effectively with customers across the globe, the subsea cable network plays a crucial role in day-to-day operations.

The system is virtually the foundation of any enterprise doing cross-continent business. And as more and more operations move to the cloud, our dependence on the subsea cable network is only going to increase.

Even a small disruption to these cables is likely to cause a hiccup for businesses who rely on digital operations or cross-continental relationships. According to a paper published by Harvard Kennedy School, any disruption to the system could impact $10 trillion transactions in a single day.

The vulnerabilities

Surprisingly, considering the criticality of these cables, they are not very well protected. Any small incident or defect to the system could potentially bring an entire business to a grinding halt. Be it a natural phenomenon, subsea landslides, wildlife or fishing activity—the threats are numerous. In actual fact, ship anchors and fishing activity accounts for 65 to 75 percent of all known cases of faults in the subsea network.

Even a small fault is difficult to repair, and any minor disruption could take days, sometimes months, to rectify. In some cases, it may require an engineering team to travel to different country or continent to correct the problem.

A case in point is the South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe (SEA-Me-We 3) network—the only submarine link between Perth and Singapore, which was down earlier this year. The downtime impacted the speed and overall connectivity services to the Asian countries.

At 39,000 kilometers in length, SEA-ME-WE 3 is the longest telecom cable in the world, spanning across 39 landing stations. A part of this crucial undersea cable runs through Indonesia—a high seismic zone that experiences many earthquakes each year. The cable system has two fibre pairs carrying 48 wavelengths of 10gbps or 480gbps in each direction. Even so, as consumption increases, there is a need for increased capacity.

The new subsea cable

As internet services become pervasive, the subsea network operators are working hard to increase the capacity of these connections. The service providers are also enhancing the network of submarine cables, so if one cable suffers an outage, there is an alternative, ensuring businesses don’t suffer from downtime.

In keeping with the increased demand, Vocus is building a replacement system for the network—the Australian Singapore Cable (ASC) submarine cable. The project was initiated with the aim to replace the slower SMW3 cable network, which is near full capacity.  

The ramifications of this are huge for the Australian businesses. A more agile and robust submarine cable system will go a long way in ensuring that businesses are able to execute transactions without hiccups.

Vocus is working at breakneck speed to ensure that ASC submarine cable is ready by July 2018, much before the original target of September 2018. The construction is now underway at the landing sites in Singapore, Indonesia, and Perth.

What this system will bring

The upcoming subsea cable network is designed to open  up new and exciting opportunities for Asian and Australian businesses. With the capacity of 40tbps, the ASC will offer better speeds and low latency compared to the existing submarine network.

These days, we are more dependent on submarine cable technology needs than we realise. Sadly, outages can never be wholly predicted or prevented, but there are workarounds to minimise disruptions. In this scenario, it is vital to go for a submarine cable operator who takes measures to minimise the impact of the outage. The resilience of the network is important to ensure that your business takes its rightful position in the global economy.

To learn more, get in touch with us to find out how we can enhance your business communications effectively.

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