Several years ago, I wrote a post on the incredible expansion of airline travel which has transformed the global trade and expanded the economies throughout the world.
This post deals with an equally important but more subtle improvement which has occurred and will continue for many years to come. This modern technology deals with the high fiber communication cables which are being laid on the ocean floors throughout the globe. This technology was developed by an Indian born American – Narinder Singh Kapany – in the 1950s. He is known as “Father of Fiber Optics”.
A key step to using fiber optics as a means of communication was lowering the cable’s attenuation rate which refers to any reduction in the strength of a signal. Throughout the 1960-70s, companies made gains in manufacturing, reducing the number of impurities and allowing light to cross great distances without a dramatic decrease in signal intensity. By the mid-1980s, long distance fiber optic cables had finally reached the feasibility stage.
These fiber optic cables have increased the speed flow and quality of information to the world. This information continues to help global citizens improve their lives, and allows for more people to get out of poverty and into the increasing middle class. The movement to enrich the lives of so many results in tremendous opportunity for global companies selling products that become affordable to many.
Crossing the Oceans:
The first intercontinental fiber optic cable was placed across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in 1988. The cable—known as TAT-8*—was spearheaded by three companies; AT&T, France Télécom, and British Telecom. The cable was able to carry the equivalent of 40,000 telephone channels, a ten-fold increase over its predecessor, TAT-7. (The TAT-8 was retired in 2002).
The engineering feat to accomplish this task took time to perfect. By the 1990s, many more cables hit the ocean floor. By the dawn of the new millennium, every populated continent on Earth was connected by fiber optic cables. During this time, the physical network of the internet was beginning to take shape.
The one minute video below shows that in the early 2000s there was a boom in undersea cable development, reflecting the surge in internet usage around globe. In 2001 alone, eight new cables connected North America and Europe. The video is from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) an international supplier of geographic information system (GIS) software, web GIS and geodatabase management applications.
The video shows that from 2016-2020, over 100 new cables will be laid with an estimated value of $14 billion. Now, even the most remote Polynesian islands have access to high-speed internet thanks to undersea cables.
No end is in sight for the addition of cables as nearly every corner of the globe is now physically connected. This is due to the increasing capacity of new cables and the world’s appetite for high-quality video content. New cables are so efficient that the majority of potential capacity along major cable routes will come from cables that are less than five years old.
Traditionally, a consortium of telecom companies or governments would fund cable construction, but tech companies are increasingly funding their own submarine cable networks.
Understandably, Narinder Singh Kapany was named as one of the seven “Unsung Heroes” by Fortune in their ‘Businessmen of the Century’ issue in 1999. He personally improved the lives of so many with the discovery of this fiber optic technology.
Continue to invest in the global companies that will be beneficiaries of this technology and improve the lives throughout the world.
Hope you have a great week!
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