Sunday, October 25, 2015

Undersea Cables

Some seventeen years ago I presented a paper to Members of the Russian Duma regarding a Russian Transit Cable system. I had said:

This Business Proposal articulates the strategy on how to implement the concept of taking transit traffic from the Atlantic to the Pacific across Russia. Apparently, others, like RosTeleCom, GTS and at least  one other team seeking to use National Rail and National Electric Utility fiber optic infrastructure are also working on a similar approach. A special opportunity to break ahead of them all has been distilled. The Consortium of companies represented herein, has the ability, facilities, contacts, and skills necessary to accomplish this task.

Then some three years ago we considered a trans Arctic system parallelling the systems to the south in the Indian Ocean and allowing for improved East-West transport. Unfortunately Ukraine and other steps intervened. The Arctic is a powerful opportunity to combine communications with environmental monitoring. It also provides for a back-up of the Indian and Pacific routes. Canada and the US could do likewise.

However as reported today in the NY Times the Russians, according t US sources, may be creating a threat to these systems. They report:

Russian submarines and spy ships are aggressively operating near the vital undersea cables that carry almost all global Internet communications, raising concerns among some American military and intelligence officials that the Russians might be planning to attack those lines in times of conflict.

Well frankly we do have a multiplicity of satellites as well as wireless systems, many real time deployable. Any such "cuts", which happen all the time, would at worst disrupt iPhones in Mumbai. Not an earth shattering event. Perhaps they could do the same in New York and it would make pedestrian traffic safer from collisions.

The key question is that of survivable strategic links. Collapse of Commerce might disrupt Russia a bit but it would be devastating to China. We have to my knowledge no items in Walmart from Russia but thousands from China. Thus in a strange way China may be more concerned that the US.

Then again setting cables across China may make for secure land based commercial assets. Just a thought.