There are now more than 1.3 million km of submarine cables worldwide

Undersea Cable
(Image credit: Shuterstock / Christoph Burgstedt)

An interactive map detailing the world’s undersea communications cables now has 487 connections and 1,304 unique landing stations in its database.

In total, TeleGeography’s map shows records of 1.3 million km of submarine cables across the globe and visualises more than $8 billion in new investment over the next three years.

Undersea cables were first used in the 19th century to transmit telegrams across oceans and have since provided the foundation for global telephone and Internet networks. There are now hundreds of thousands of miles of these cables across the world.

Google undersea web cable

This network has been expanded and upgraded significantly in recent years, as demand for data-intensive applications intensifies. Despite advances in satellite technology, it is thought that 380 cables carry more than 99.5% of transoceanic data.

The first cables were deployed by telecommunications companies, with private firms that sold capacity back to providers getting in on the act later. Now, there is significant investment from technology firms like Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Amazon who want to ensure their services can cope with the anticipated growth in data traffic.

This is true of both consumer services such as search, streaming, e-commerce, and social networking but also enterprise applications that rely on the cloud. Earlier this year, for example, Google announced it was building two new cables designed to boost capacity between the Middle East, Southern Europe, and Asia.

The growing importance of connectivity to consumers, businesses and governments means the Ministry of Defence considers these cables to be of key strategic importance and should be protected from any potential threats. It has commissioned a new Royal Navy ship that will patrol UK and international waters once it enters service in 2024.

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.