The internet IS a series of tubes

From back when two dedicated 2mbit lines were enough to support an entire video-on-demand business concept.

This ad is a nice reminder that the much-mocked former Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was only partially wrong when he famously said that the Internet is a series of tubes. There is a wonderful physicality of the Internet: Your g-mails are not floating around up in a cloud, they are firmly grounded on a field in Oklahoma. And for data to cross the ocean, it needs a tube – or submarine cable, if you want to be specific – from one coast to another. They weigh 10kg per meter (7 lb/ft), and the oceanic network looks something like this:

The longest one is 39.000km (pretty much a trip around the world) going from Germany to South Korea, with 39 landing points on its way.

The combined capacity of all trans-Atlantic cables is nearly 40T bits per second (Tbps), and even though it sounds like a lot, it’s another reason why flat-rate Internet subscriptions might go up in price over the next years: These cables are reaching capacity, and it doesn’t look like the current business-models support the investments needed.

Sources:
New Scientist
The Guardian
Wikipedia
PC World