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You've Read About Recent Cable Breaks. Now Read About the Repairs.

Internet Network

By Alan MauldinMar 19, 2020

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Maybe you've been scrolling through our blogs about recent cable breaks. Or perhaps it just feels like there's been an uptick of cable fault chatter online. Either way, disruptions to service have made their way into a few spring headlines.

But it's worth remembering that where there have been faults, there have also been repairs.

From recent returns to service in Egypt to other repairs in South Africa, ingrained processes and contingency plans have been responsible for recovered service on a number of key subsea cable systems.

From recent returns to service in Egypt to repairs in South Africa, ingrained repair processes and contingency plans have recovered service on a number of subsea cable systems.

Repairing cables is simply part of the process for a cable-dependent society. And we've gotten good at it!

There's a reason that we rarely hear about these cable faults—and that recent headlines are more of an exception than the rule. It's because most companies that use cables follow a “safety in numbers” approach to usage, spreading their networks' capacity over multiple cables. If one breaks, their network will run smoothly over other cables while service is restored on the damaged one.

Accidents like fishing vessels and ships dragging anchors account for two-thirds of all cable faults. Environmental factors like earthquakes also contribute to damage. In the recent example out of Egypt, service was interrupted as a result of terrestrial cable cuts resulting from an unusually powerful storm. 

Environmental factors like earthquakes also contribute to damage. In the recent example out of Egypt, service was interrupted as a result of terrestrial cable cuts resulting from an unusually powerful storm. 

And let's consider the context. As of 2020, we believe there are over 1.2 million kilometers of submarine cables in service globally. Even though we don't always hear about them, cable faults are common. On average, there are over 100 each year.

You can read more about all things cables in our refreshed set of frequently asked questions

 

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Alan Mauldin

Alan Mauldin

Alan Mauldin is a Research Director at TeleGeography. He manages the company’s infrastructure research group, focusing primarily on submarine cables, terrestrial networks, international Internet infrastructure, and bandwidth demand modeling. He also advises clients with due diligence analysis, feasibility studies, and business plan development for projects around the world. Alan speaks frequently about the global network industry at a wide range of conferences, including PTC, Submarine Networks World, and SubOptic.

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