A submarine communications cable is a cable laid on the sea bed between land-based stations(landing points) to carry telecommunication signals across stretches of ocean and sea. The first submarine communications cables laid beginning in the 1850s carried telegraphy traffic, establishing the first instant telecommunications links between continents, such as the first transatlantic telegraph cable which became operational on 16 August 1858. Subsequent generations of cables carried telephone traffic, then data communications traffic.
Modern cables use optical fibre technology to carry digital data, which includes telephone, Internet and private data traffic.The usage of OFCs first started in 1980s ,it is very beneficial technological development because it provides high speed database transfer , has a wider bandwidth and provides an advantage of cost.Major cities in the world have the submarine cable landing points which service as the nodes of internet connectivity.
99% of the global internet communication is enabled by Submarine OFCs . Thus acting as the backbone of Telecom internet and provides inter-continental communication . Though Satellite communication is good and efficient ,it can only transfer only a few megabits of information and is also very expensive medium of communication.There could be a lag in communication and problem with ensuring a widespread coverage.
SIGNIFICANCE OF SUBMARINE OFCs :
1.Even though laying of submarine cables is expensive it provides a cheaper and effective means of communication.
2.It provides for inter-continental communication system.
3.It provides for an advantage of cost .
4.It has high speed data transfer capability with a wider bandwidth of about some terabits.
5.They have inbuilt redundancy capacity.i.e, when there is cable failure or severe weather then their other routes handle the traffic and the routing information is updated automatically. The routing system is never being used at full capacity so there is always that redundancy to allow for outages on any part of the network.
6.The landing points are treated as the critical infrastructure as they play a crucial role in both defence and economy.They are usually laid by private telecom companies but in the case of even public service providers can be involved because of its importance.
7.In the present digitalised world the software industry is rapidly developing and every information is transferred and stored in internet and cloud network which makes the submarine OFCs and its landing points strategically important for a country’s security and to economic stability.
8.Tapping into a country’s OFCs will enable the cyber attackers to gain all the information about technology, defence and scientific strategies and developments of that country which makes Submarine OFCs strategically important.This method of tapping is both a leverage and threat to a country’s security.
THREATs TO OFCs :
1.They can be damaged by large ships.
2.Large oceanic animals can attack these cables.
3.Natural disasters like seabed earthquakes and volcanic eruptions can destroys this infrastructure leading to connectivity shutdown for few days .
4.It is vulnerable to espionage and tapping of a country’s defence and security.
SUBMARINE OFCs @ INDIA :
India has 5 landing stations out of which two are major and three are minor stations.
1.Mumbai is the most important landing station in India which connects with India and South Asia with critical landing stations located in number of Middle Eastern countries, Europe and in Africa.
2.Chennai is the other majore station which connects India and south Asia and the Asia pacific region.
India recently setout to build submarine cable from Chennai to Andaman and Nicobar to bring high speed internet connectivity to these Indian Islands and to bring effective/efficient/better and cheaper connectivity to develop Tourism, economy and security of the nation.This step of Indian government highlights the strategic importance of its islands,Andaman and Nicobar,as they are located in SE Asian region which is a major manufacturing hub and at the opening of strait of malacca.