How vulnerable are global undersea cables?

2022-07-21 0 By

A recent tongan volcano eruption left a country “out of touch.”Tonga’s undersea cable was cut and satellite communications equipment damaged after a massive eruption on The island of Aha Apai triggered a massive tsunami on Sunday.An undersea cable has been confirmed cut on the South Pacific island nation of Tonga after an undersea volcano erupted, knocking down telephone and Internet links across the country and leaving some 105,000 residents cut off from the outside world.In its first statement since a massive undersea volcano erupted and triggered a tsunami, tonga’s government said the country had suffered an “unprecedented disaster”, with homes completely destroyed on several islands and a state of emergency.A volcanic eruption has ruptured tonga’s only undersea communications fiber-optic cable and could take at least four weeks to repair, New Zealand’s foreign Ministry said Sunday.Electricity has been restored to 80 percent of tonga’s capital, but the Internet is still down.A tsunami triggered by an undersea volcano in Tonga destroyed the country’s only undersea optical cable.The 827km undersea cable, operated by Tonga Cable, connects to southern Cross’s network in Fiji.Kreich Slutz, southern Cross’s head of marketing, had previously predicted it could take two weeks to fix the cable if all went well.The speed of maintenance depends on when a maintenance vessel arrives and begins operations.Tonga’s consul General in Sydney, Louis Waterhouse, said on Tuesday that the reality and problems of undersea cable were worse than first understood.The chairman of Tonga Cable Group, Mr. Semura, said the exact extent of the damage could not be determined until the ship arrived in Tonga and took the cable out of the water for inspection.At present, tonga has little external communication except through a few satellite phones held mainly by foreign embassies in the capital.Satellite telephone communications have also been affected by the volcanic ash cloud spreading over Tonga.Digisel, an international mobile operator, said it was temporarily providing limited 2G signals through satellite infrastructure at the University of the South Pacific.A volcanic eruption has thrust an island nation in the South Pacific, often overlooked in normal days, into the world’s spotlight and drawn attention to the fragility of the modern Internet, especially infrastructure in these remote regions.Tonga’s experience highlights the fragility of the world’s communications infrastructure.Not only Tonga, but also Australia, New Zealand and other countries and regions are vulnerable to submarine cables.Australia, for example, is only connected to the global communications network through a handful of connections from Sydney and Perth.There have been large underwater landslides off the coast of Sydney before.In the future, similar incidents are likely to disrupt key “arteries” of local networks.Today, undersea cables are the cornerstone of globalization and global communications.Millions of kilometers of undersea cables encircle the globe, providing Internet and communications links between continents.For countries around the world, especially coastal states or island nations such as Australia, Tonga and Fiji, submarine cables are vital infrastructure and vital to the daily functioning of society.Damage to or disruption of this critical infrastructure could have disastrous local, regional or even global consequences.This is exactly what happened in Tonga after the volcano, tsunami and other disasters.But this isn’t the first time a natural disaster has cut a vital undersea cable, and it won’t be the last.Undersea fibre-optic cables account for 90 percent of the world’s cross-border data traffic, and such networks can become overloaded in the event of a major failure, especially in the event of a natural disaster.Once damaged, it can take days to weeks, or even longer, to repair the cable, depending on how deep it is and how accessible it is.In times of crisis, such blackouts make it harder for governments, emergency services and charities to get involved in recovery efforts.The tonga incident has once again highlighted how fragile the global network of undersea cables is, and how quickly we can go offline.