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Saturday, August 19, 2006 Bookmark Now! | Email to a friend  

How do they lay cable across the ocean? Is it laid on the very bottom?

Yes, the cable is laid on the bottom of the ocean. The answer to this fascinating question is perhaps quite dull: "they" use ships to lay cable across the ocean floor. Simple as that. But finding the answer was not that dull; it was actually fairly tough. Here's what I did:

Among the handful of results in google, there was a listing for Pacific International Cable Consulting, Inc., a company that, according to the site description, participates in most aspects of the "loading, laying, and repair of high capacity submarine optical systems." While the site is little more than a corporate profile for the company, I did manage to find something new: a better keyword search. Namely, "submarine cable."

A Google search on the new phrase didn't get me very far, but I did notice that many of my leads were listed in the Telecommunications category. I decided a new strategy: search the web sites in that category for specific pages that included the phrase "submarine cable."

There, I found a link to the FTL Design History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy. In short, it's a fascinating look at the early days of cable laying in the Atlantic. You should explore all of the links, but one in particular, to a 1925 article, "On Board the Cable Ship," clearly indicates: they use ships to do this work. Also, check out the cool images of actual cable from the mid-1800s.

I hoped for something more definitive, however, so I decided to fine tune my search strategy one more time. A search on the phrase "undersea cable technology" (using the quotation marks) led me to an article entitled " Evolution of a Wired World: The Growth of an Undersea, Intercontinental Network."

Besides being an interesting read on the history of this subject -- and reaffirming that "they" use ships to lay cable on the ocean floor -- I was able to determine who "they" are.

Among others, the U.S. conglomerate Tyco International is heavily involved in the business of laying undersea cable. A visit to the company's site led us to Tyco Submarine Systems. If the top page image doesn't answer your question, searching on Marine Services should do it. Happy reading!

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