2012 Submarine Cable Map: Global Trends and Data
It’s hard to imagine the physical route that our communications take around the world. When we send an email from New York to China, it is easy to forget that it actually traveled by light, through a physical cable, for all or most of its travels. TeleGeography, a telecommunications market research and consulting firm, specializes in international research. Its 2012 Submarine Cable Map reveals the ever-expanding web of international cables that link the world’s continents, and provide valuable insight into this rapidly changing market.
Technology has come a long way since the first trans-Atlantic cables were laid in the 1860s and the world’s appetite for broadband connectivity and data driven applications has grown. The demand for international bandwidth grew by 45% in 2011, as a result or network expansion and new growth in cable construction. TeleGeography has been studying this growth. Drawing from its data, they project that $5.5 billion USD will be invested in new submarine cables that will begin service through 2013.
By year-end of 2011, the trans-Atlantic was the largest submarine cable route by far, with 16.2 Tbps of lit capacity followed by the trans-Pacific route with 12.5 Tbps of lit capacity (see Figure: Lit Capacity on International Submarine Cables, 2011). Submarine cable capacity between the U.S. and Latin America is is more modest at 8.3 Tbps, though capacity on the route has nearly doubled in the past two years.
Though the US and many European countries are huge consumers of bandwidth, the rest of the world’s broadband consumption is rapidly increasing. In 2011, China and the Asia-Pacific gained 52 percent of all new subscribers worldwide. Global broadband subscribers are expected to increase by 60 percent by 2015.
There are still countries that have yet to gain cable access but that is changing. The West Africa Cable System (WACS) launched in May 2012, and the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) system, is expected to launch in Q4 2012. This will provide the first cable access for countries including Liberia, Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Namibia.
TeleGeography’s 2012 Submarine Cable Map illustrates the expanding world of international cables that link continents and their people around the globe. The map shows more than 150 cable systems that are currently active or expected to begin service by 2014 and has insets and infographics that provide detailed information about cable landing stations and the state of the submarine cable industry. TeleGeography’s 2012 Submarine Cable Map is a valuable resource that keeps industry leaders current on pertinent data and trends.