If you've ever made a “telephone” with a pair of tin cans and a string, you have an idea of how the Internet works.
Even in 2022, modern global telecommunications still functions in a somewhat similar manner.
The photo above shows an actual fiber optic cable. This is the same type of cable used in the submarine cable systems that power the global Internet.
Lasers on one end fire at extremely rapid rates down thin glass fibers to receptors at the other end of the cable. These fibers—roughly the diameter of a human hair—are sheathed in a few layers of insulation and protection.
It is these thin optical fibers, not satellites, that carry the vast majority of intercontinental telecommunications traffic.
CNBC recently released a very informative video all about fiber optic cables. It's a great watch (especially since TeleGeography's own Jon Hjembo is featured).
Watch Jon discuss fiber optic cable deployment and how fiber compares to satellite at 7:46 and 15:20.