More new submarine cable capacity was deployed last year than the entire undersea bandwidth in service globally in 2011, according to market research firm TeleGeography. That astounding statistic represents international bandwidth growth of 44 per cent in 2014, to reach 211Tb/s. Wholesale carriers and private networks, particularly those of large content providers, continue to invest billions of dollars to upgrade the capacity of existing subsea cables and install new systems.
Far below the surface, fibre-optic cables criss-cross Earth’s ocean floors, blind to the conditions – and the risks – in the cold and dark surrounding them. To channel data across the world reliably, these expensive submarine networks are designed to minimise the number of parts that add to bill-of-material costs and could fail. In this austere culture, until recently, the idea of adding sensors to monitor what’s going on down there would have met with scorn.
As data demand ramps ever higher, researchers are looking to innovative amplifier designs to help transport a broader light spectrum through optical fibres, finds Andy Extance
Duncan Ellis shares his views about the increased focus on automation from network operators, and how the physical layer has so far stubbornly resisted the move
Switching off copper networks where fibre has been deployed is the end game, so why are so few operators doing it, wonders Pauline Rigby
With demand for fibre to the premises increasing, Keely Portway looks at the role training plays in ensuring installation skills remain available to meet this growing demand