Submarine Cable Map
A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean. The first submarine communications cables, laid in the 1850s, carried telegraphy traffic. Subsequent generations of cables carried telephone traffic, then data communications traffic. Modern cables use optical fibertechnology to carry digital data, which includes telephone, Internet and private data traffic.
Modern cables are typically 69 millimetres (2.7 in) in diameter and weigh around 10 kilograms per metre (7 lb/ft), although thinner and lighter cables are used for deep-water sections. As of 2010, submarine cables link all the world’s continentsexcept Antarctica.
TeleGeography’s Submarine Cable Map has been updated for 2015. The latest edition depicts 299 cable systems that are currently active, under construction, or expected to be fully-funded by the end of 2015.
This year’s map pays tribute to the pioneering mapmakers of the Age of Discovery, incorporating elements of medieval and renaissance cartography. In addition to serving as navigational aids, maps from this era were highly sought-after works of art, often adorned with fanciful illustrations of real and imagined dangers at sea. Such embellishments largely disappeared in the early 1600s, pushing modern map design into a purely functional direction.
To bring back the lost aesthetic that vanished along with these whimsical details, TeleGeography referenced a variety of resources in the design process. One of the most invaluable was Chet Van Duzer’s Sea Monsters in Medieval and Renaissance Maps book, which provides arguably the most complete history of the evolution of sea monsters and map design from this period. Our final product is a view of the global submarine cable network seen through the lens of a bygone era.
The map depicts routes of 278 in-service and 21 planned undersea cables. Capital cities for each country are also provided.
The map provides latency from the United States, United Kingdom, and Hong Kong to several other countries, presented in milliseconds of round trip delay.
Inset infographics provide lit capacity data from 2002-2013 for the trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific, US-Latin America, and Europe-Asia via Egypt routes.
Inset illustrations depict steps in the cable laying process, including the receiving of a submarine cable on shore and the coiling of cable within a ship’s tank.
Dangers to Cables
The map is adorned with images of common causes of cable faults, including fishing vessels, anchors, and trenches on the ocean floor, as well as cable maintenance vessels responsible for repairs. In homage to vintage maps, it also includes ornate illustrations of mythical sea monsters.
The map is printed on Yupo, a high quality synthetic material, and measures 36” x 50” (0.9144 m x 1.27 m). The map is available flat and shipped in a tube (recommended for framing or hanging on a wall) or folded (for more convenient storage and transportation). Heat mounting is not recommended.