“Of Cables and Conspiracies” article in The Economist

March 12, 2008

An article from February 7, 2008 in the Economist reports several undersea cable failures (or sabotages) in the course of a week. In response, bloggers circulated conspiracy theories: were the cables really destroyed by ships’ anchors or are submarines to blame? Though these are ultimately discounted by the author, who ends with “It may be rare for several cables to go down in a week, but it can happen,” the article brings up a number of questions:

Just how susceptible are underwater cables to attack? (Because on one hand, “big oceans are criss-crossed by so many cables that a single break has little impact” but on the other, “75m people from Algeria to Bangladesh saw internet links disrupted or cut off”.)

And how much does economic and political stability rely on these cables? The author seems to think that stability will increase, but we just as often see increased instability in the expansion of global networks.

In any case, yet another instance that place and infrastructure do matter.

Undersea Cables Economist article

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