Photographer David Meyer with ZDNet UK went on an excursion through one of three Alcatel-Lucent cable vessels designed for laying fiber optic channels along the ocean floor. Here is a photo report
on how the Internet infrastructure looks like underwater and with the help of what equipment they lay the main communication channels.
The ship Ile de Batz is usually based in France, but he entered the port of Greenwich to get some components from the local Alcatel-Lucent plant.
Each Ile de Batz flight lasts an average of 30 to 40 days. Under normal weather conditions, it can lay up to 200 km of cable per day at a depth of up to 8 km. The life of the cables is estimated at 25 years.
Currently, the market for underwater gasket is fairly stable, there are no new companies, no special competition. The main global project, which is currently undergoing the most work - Africa. According to experts, in a couple of years large orders from Asia can go.
The cost of a large project can reach $ 500 million, so telecoms usually finance the construction of underwater channels.
A board with cables of different thickness is installed on board the ship. Thicker ones are laid closer to the surface (here they need good protection from the anchors of passing ships, trawls, rubbing against stones during tides and other damage), and thin ones - at the deepest, safe.
In case of damage, the cable can be repaired, for this Alcatel-Lucent has additional ships at sea, but each patch leads to the degradation of the channel, that is, it degrades its characteristics.
This is what the docking mechanism looks like. The process requires high precision, do not look at the bundle of tape.
The next machine is needed for pressing the protective layers of the cable. In a sense, the ship is a small factory, because cables often require additional processing.
On the ship there are two large cable storage. Now they are empty, with the exception of a small bundle of 17mm fiber.
In general, each storage can hold up to 5,500 km or 3,000 tons of cable. There are a couple of spare storage for 250 tons.
The photo shows a series of engines for feeding the cable from the storage to the stern, from where it is lowered to a depth.
The next surrealistic mechanism is nothing more than an underwater plow that buries fiber up to three meters into the bottom. The plow operates at a depth of up to 1.5 km, it is believed that only in such waters do fishing vessels go and cables should be hidden from their anchors and trawls.
In laying the fiber helps a separate control center, which is separated from the main navigation system of the ship. All work is managed here, and sensors monitor weather conditions and bottom relief.
The Alcatel-Lucent plant in Greenwich was built in the middle of the 19th century, now there are amplifiers (repeaters), splitters and equipment for powering amplifiers.
This is how one of the amplifiers looks like, which is placed along the entire length of the channel. This two-year-old model provides a data transfer rate of about 1.5 terabits per second.
This is a typical splitter that allows you to split the channel into two routes.Additionally:Neal Stephenson. Mother earth mother board