Economic output of many countries now dependent on traffic from underseas cables
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National economies now rely on undersea connectivity for a growing portion of their overall output. Today, essentially every consumer or commercial product contains commodities and parts drawn from dozens of separate countries in a “manufacturing chain” of subcomponent builders, product assemblers, suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers. These disparate players are able to seamlessly integrate their efforts using the Internet, enabling greater specialization and economies of scale within each step of the manufacturing process. This, in turn, promotes economic growth in countries that no longer have to either build an entire product domestically with great inefficiency or import it at high cost.
Global manufacturing chains and financial services are made possible by transoceanic cables, and more cable is being laid each year to meet the growing demand for bandwidth. The Asia Pacific Gateway cable, installed in 2014, transmits 55 terabytes of data per second (Tbps) – the equivalent of 100 computer hard drives – between East Asian countries from Malaysia to South Korea, funded in part by Facebook. Similarly, Google helped fund the installation of the FASTER cable between the United States and Japan, which will carry 60 Tbps, and is bankrolling a new 64 Tbps submarine cable between the United States and Brazil. Both content companies are hoping the new networks will increase their user rolls and reduce costs in underserved areas such as Southeast Asia, Latin America, and Africa. Data transmission to these regions with older cables can cost up to 10 times more than to Europe or Japan.