Tag Archives: Backbone

How the Internet works: Submarine fibre, brains in jars, and coaxial cables

Have you ever thought about how that cat picture actually gets from a server in Oregon to your PC in London? We’re not simply talking about the wonders of TCP/IP, or pervasive Wi-Fi hotspots, though those are vitally important as well. No, we’re talking about the big infrastructure: the huge submarine cables, the vast landing sites and data centres with their massively redundant power systems, and the elephantine, labyrinthine last-mile networks that actually hook billions of us to the Internet. – Bob Dormon, Ars Technica UK

FBI Investigating Attacks On Physical Internet Infrastructure In SF

Cutting internet cables isn’t easy — the fiber-optic core tends to be protected by a strong conduit, sometimes hardened steel. Other countries have seen internet cables vandalized by thieves looking for scrap metal. It’s unclear exactly what the motive was for this series of attacks — or even if it was a coordinated series of attacks at all — but it highlights the vulnerable nature of the internet’s backbone. – Chris Mills, Gizmodo

The Internet’s Physical Backbone is Maxing Out

The fiber-optic cables that transmit the internet’s data and direct its traffic have a power limit. For decades, researchers have been amplifying the signal passed through these cables to keep up with growing internet traffic. But those tricks won’t work forever: If you up the power beyond a certain point, the fibers becomes light-saturated and the signal degrades. And we’re very close to reaching that capacity limit, according to researchers who convened at a Royal Society meeting in London this week to discuss the matter. – Maddie Stone, Gizmodo

The disastrous events that would break the internet

London Internet Providers Exchange, and it’s one of the biggest points of traffic exchange on the internet anywhere in the world. There are bigger exchanges out there, but not as many as you might think. Matthew Prince, CEO of content delivery network CloudFlare, puts the number of large facilities like Linx at “around 30”. These buildings, scattered across the globe, are where networks from providers like Virgin or Comcast come together to exchange their traffic. That, after all, is the whole point of an “inter”-net. And if any of them were cut off – by a power cut or earthquake, for instance – we would know about it. […] Perhaps cutting the links between such places, then, would be an easier way to break the internet? There are uncountable miles of cables wrapped around the globe, and many of the biggest are just lying there unprotected – albeit often underwater. Indeed, cables do sometimes get severed just by accident, for instance during earthquakes or when ships’ anchors slice through them on the seabed. – Chris Baranluk, BBC via  Quartz 
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Why America’s Internet Is So Shitty and Slow

The internet is a tangible thing, a network of infrastructure pulsing with light, winding its way into and beneath buildings. It’s also a marketplace. There is the physical location where the fiber-optic cables full of data cross, and then there are the financial deals that direct the traffic down each specific set of wires. This combination of physical wires and ephemeral business transactions will shape the future of the digital world. – Adam Clark Estes, Gizmodo