Our most vital data network lies beneath the waves

Our most vital data network lies beneath the waves

The critical role that subsea cables play in our social and economic lives often goes unnoticed, but they do all the heavy lifting in high-speed international communications

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29th May, 2021

In 1858, the first transatlantic cable was laid between Newfoundland and Valentia Island, Co Kerry, enabling transatlantic communications, notes Mike Hollands, senior director of market development, Digital Realty.

Some 163 years later, it is easy to forget about subsea cables’ role in Irish economic growth. Just consider:

Subsea fibre optic cables transfer 99 per cent of transoceanic data, operating at the speed of light, globally.

They are the physical structures which enable international connectivity in virtually all areas of our lives, including internet access, video calls, working from home, content-streaming services and, crucially, time-critical transactions.

Subsea cables are more reliable than satellite communication, allowing for a larger capacity of data transfer with enhanced levels of security.

What most don’t realise is the importance of rapid data and communication, facilitated by these subsea cables, in helping organisations adapt to the disruption of Covid-19. This has fundamentally changed how we work, our communications and even our entertainment. Microsoft recorded more than 4.1 billion minutes of Microsoft Teams meetings in a single day and declared “we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months”.

We now operate in a rapidly evolving digital world, driving further demand for these cables as individuals and organisations increasingly rely on subsea cables’ exceptional speed and capacity in carrying data. In fact, this connectivity will be pivotal to Ireland’s success in attracting international companies in the technology, pharmaceutical and financial sectors.

The subsea cable industry greatly contributes to the Irish economy across many sectors. The draft National Marine Planning Framework reported that subsea international networks make Ireland an attractive region for investment for the technology and digital sectors. TeleGeography states that there are 12 existing subsea cables connecting Ireland to the US and Britain, with a further four systems under development.

The government’s statement on the role of data centres in Ireland’s enterprise strategy identified Ireland as a location of choice for many sectors reliant on digital and telecommunications capabilities, all of which in turn rely on subsea cable interconnectivity.

Subsea cables are of strategic importance to Ireland’s future as a catalyst for economic and societal prosperity.

To register for the Interxion webinar on Insights into Ireland’s Subsea Cable Landscape, on June 15 at 2.30pm, visit interxion.ie/webinars

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