03 August 2010

mapping submarine fiber-optic cables

Telegeography's Global Submarine Cable Map 2010

Yesterday, via an article on The Economist magazine's website, I found out about Greg's Cable Map, which is an excellent mash-up of submarine fiber-optic cable landing locations layered onto Bing Maps.  The map effectively shows where the Internet enters and leaves each of the continents and most, if not all, of the inhabited islands in between.  While the global scale submarine cable map can be seen and even downloaded as a jpeg file at Telegeography's website, Greg's Cable Map is useful because it allows the viewer to zoom in to see the particular cities where the various submarine cables emerge from the ocean floor and connect into the terrestrial Internet grid.

Greg has also provided links to each submarine cable's owner-operator, so it is possible with a little research to see who is routing what through where regarding the major Internet Service Providers.  For instance, in Tuckerton, New Jersey, just north of Atlantic City, two cables land, the TAT-14 and the Atlantica 1.  At the TAT-14 website, there is a list of the thirty four companies that are partnered with Sprint to use the TAT-14 cable system to route Internet traffic.  While this side of the Internet is not slick and fancy, and the websites often appear ten years out of date, the information about the submarine cable systems is interesting and important.  It places in distinct space the ephemerality of bits of information traveling over the Internet's global network.  In effect, it is the global network grounded in specific locations, like Tuckerton.  Amid the sprawl of suburban New Jersey, on the border of the Pine Barrens, is a landing point for a cable that, while anonymous and indistinct, forms part of a global communication network that we all rely on daily.  Effectively, Tuckerton is part of the everyday landscape of the Internet that is accessible through the screen of our computer or mobile phone, but also present in submarine cables like the TAT-14.

Tuckerton, New Jersey, the landing point of two submarine fiber-optic cables.  Image taken from cablemap.info

 ...a final note -- after looking at the map, I am almost positive that the map does not show the actual location of the landing point.  Finding these actual spots would require some fieldwork that I hopefully will be able to begin this fall.


  1. We could find the cable landings and visit the fish factory on crab island.

  2. Hey Alan Wiig, did you ever attempt to find the actual locations of the landing points?