The internet transmits data over the world in a matter of seconds. It consists of tiny bits of code that move around the world, travelling along wires as thin as a strand of hair strung across the ocean floor.
Companies around the world have pooled resources together to collaborate on undersea cable projects. About 750,000 miles of cable already connects the continents to support communication and entertainment.
Now, Google is riding solo, embarking on a project that will connect the home to its largest data center in Chile to the United States.
The time-intensive process will involve a 456-foot ship that will deliver the cable to sea. The cable is first assembled inside a factory. The factory in New Hampshire, United States is filled with specialised machinery used to maintain tension in the wire and encase it in a protective skin.
Then lasers would propel data down the tiny threads in the bottom of the sea at nearly the speed of light, using fibre-optic technology. Upon reaching land and connecting with an existing network, the data needed to read an email or open a web page makes its way onto a person’s device.
Though we access the internet through Wi-Fi and phone data plans, the systems usually link up with physical cables that swiftly carry the information across continents or oceans.
A year has gone into planning the cable route so that it avoids underwater hazards. However, the cables, which are expected to last up to 25 years, will have to withstand heavy currents, rock slides, earthquakes and interference from fishing activities.
After the Latin America project, by 2020, Google plans to build a new cable running from Virginia in America to France. The company has 13 data centres open around the world, with eight more under construction. These centres are all needed to power the trillions of Google searches made each year and the more than 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube each minute.
The first trans-Atlantic cable was completed in 1858 to connect the United States and Britain.
Experts say this project is estimated to cost Google up to $350 million, depending on the length of the cable.