In the telecom world network operators must continually adapt to their changing business environments, if they’re to remain differentiated, competitive, and financially viable. Innovative submarine network operators are actively adopting and adapting technologies borne in data centers and terrestrial networks to modernize their submerged assets to successfully address the ever-changing demands of their customers, which increasingly are machines residing within mammoth data centers dispersed around our planet. 

Reverse evolution, from land to sea

As the theory goes, prehistoric creatures crawled out of the water over 500 million years ago and took a stroll on the beach. Over millennia, they slowly evolved into terrestrial animals that we know today. In the submarine networks world, for the most part, the opposite occurred from a technology perspective where technologies originally developed for terrestrial networks were adapted to submarine networks.

Some examples of terrestrial technologies that have been incorporated into modern submarine submarine networks include coherent detection optical modems, Reconfigurable Add/Drop Multiplexers (ROADMs), and L-band optoelectronics. These technologies have blurred, and in some cases completely erased the traditional boundaries between submarine and terrestrial networks.

This reverse evolution will continue into the future, as the significantly larger size of the terrestrial networking market means greater R&D funding to further drive rapid and ongoing technology innovation, and submarine networks will benefit accordingly.

Land. Sea. Cloud. Networks unite.

We’re now seeing technologies borne in the data center finding their way not only into terrestrial networks, but submarine networks well, such as analytics, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. As Submarine Line Terminal Equipment (SLTE) originally developed and housed in a Cable Landing Station (CLS) near or on the beach is moved directly into interconnected data centers, the once traditional demarcation points between submarine, terrestrial, and data center networks in also starting to blur. The cross-pollination of land, sea, and data center-based networking technologies continues and accelerates. 

Given that the majority of submarine network traffic now flows between data centers, and the majority of new submarine cables are being built by Internet Content Providers (ICP), this trend is likely to continue well into the future. This means the uniting of cloud (data center), terrestrial, and submarine networks.

Adapting to a changing submarine network market environment

It’s no secret that reliable submarine connectivity is absolutely critical to serving an ever-growing number of connected end-users—both humans and machines (IoT). This has led to submarine networks that span our planet to continually adopt and adapt new technologies to maintain pace with ongoing and voracious bandwidth demands. However, as data centers continue to consume an increasingly larger share of overall submarine bandwidth, they’re also being built in new locations, which drives new submarine cable builds.

Want to learn more about the key dynamics driving the data center hub and associated interconnection landscapes and the submarine networks and technologies that interconnect them? Then watch our webinar with TeleGeography for additional insights into both the business and technology aspects of this evolving network space.

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