This Map of the World’s Underwater Broadband Cables Says a Lot About Who Matters

This post was written by Oliver Micheals and originally appeared on RYOT.

So Google’s going for ”global domination” again, and this time they’re looking to lay some 5,000 miles of super high-speed cable across the Pacific ocean at a cost of nearly $300 million.

Okay, so maybe the project (appropriately called “Faster”) is really just to improve the broadband network between us and Japan:

Credit: NEC

But it’s got me thinking. In the age of satellite, wireless and bluetooth, we often forget that so much of our communication is still dependent on overground wires and underwater cables, especially for communicating with people in different parts of the world.

Turns out, only around one percent of our communications are handled via satellite, meaning we’re almost totally dependent on these wires to stay in touch with our family, friends and coworkers.

Mapping this physical network is called cyber-geography, and it’s a tangible way of seeing just how much it takes to enjoy being able to watch, say, videos of Kevin Richardson hugging lions in Africa.

But it also says a lot about who we’re most keen on communicating with, or perhaps more tellingly, who we’re ignoring.

Specifically, you’ll see a virtual lack of connection with Africa, which doesn’t mean we can’t reach them — it just means the speed and volume of traffic is much lower.

Seeing which countries these cables circumvent really puts into perspective who does and doesn’t matter to big nations and corporations.

Credit: Alcatel


Map credit: Alcatel


Erin H.
Erin H3 years ago

Interesting article, thank you!

Manuela C.
Manuela C3 years ago


Diana S.
Diana S3 years ago

This map shows me coastal, industrialized, concentrated population areas connected by communication cables. The fact that land-locked, technologically forward areas are not on the ocean cable network speaks more to the fact that there is no ocean access (ever heard of above-ground and/or wireless communication?).

Supply follows demand. If there is no current demand for or location for ocean cable connections, none will be planned nor created. Any area that wants it merely has to create the demand.

Good grief, people - get your heads out of your rectal sphincters and face reality!!!

Leopold Marek
Leopold Marek3 years ago


judith sanders
judith sanders3 years ago

@Ron G. Satellites are actually at risk of physical disruption from space junk, rarely from meteorites (, and from geomagnetic storms. Most satellites have to be replaced every 10 -15 years.

I dispute the basic thesis of this article, that Africa only has a few broadband cable links because nations and corporations don't think the people of Africa matter. Look at the map again. The continent of Africa has more connections that all of Canada and Russia combined. The landlocked Eastern European and Central Asian states have zero links.

Undoubtedly, the communications industry has it's own agenda, but don't try to shoehorn it into your "everybody persecutes Africa" ideology.

Carole R.
Carole R3 years ago


Christopher R.
Christopher R3 years ago

While it does not have the connections most of the world does one strand carries a minimum of 40,000 calls and each line there represents many strands

Maria Teresa Schollhorn

Thank you.

Teresa W.
Teresa W3 years ago

thank you

Anne F.
Anne F3 years ago

usually fascinated by maps - thanks for the post.