Untangling the world-wide mesh of undersea cables

Zachar S. Bischof, Romain Fontugne and Fabián E. Bustamante*
To appear in Proc. of HotNets, November 2018.
IIJ Research Lab (*)Northwestern University

CS Department
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60208, USA
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The growth of global Internet traffic has driven an exponential expansion of the submarine cable network, both in terms of the sheer number of links and its total capacity. Today, a complex mesh of hundreds of cables, stretched over 1 million kilometers, connects nearly every corner of the earth and is instrumental in closing the remaining connectivity gaps. Despite the scale and critical role of the submarine network to both business and society at large, our community has mostly ignored it, treating it as a black box in most studies from connectivity to inter-domain traffic and reliability. In this paper, we make the case for a new research agenda focused on characterizing the global submarine network and the critical role it plays as basic component of any inter-continental end-to-end connection.