Rising Bandwidth Demand and the impact on Submarine Cables

Submarine Cable Consultancy Malta


Many submarine cables are used for communication purposes and carry a large amount of data across the globe. In fact, most of the Internet traffic is entirely dependent on these submarine cables. With the constant rising demand for the Internet on a worldwide level, the demand for submarine cables is constantly and drastically increasing as well. In 2022, the world had 530 active submarine cables, in 2023, the figure rose to 552, and in early 2024 we are already at 574 active cables… there is an increase in number of submarine cables of 4% annually. This article will tackle the impact of such demand on the submarine cables.

Rising bandwidth demand refers to the increasing need for data transmission capacity, driven by various factors such as the proliferation of Internet-connected devices, growth in data-heavy applications like video streaming and cloud computing, and advancements in technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. This demand is particularly pronounced in regions experiencing rapid economic development and increasing Internet penetration.

These undersea cables or submarine communication cables are essential components of global telecommunications infrastructure. They are laid on the ocean floor and carry the vast majority of international telecommunications and internet traffic. The impact of rising bandwidth demand on submarine cables is significant:

Capacity Expansion: As bandwidth demand increases, submarine cable operators need to continually expand the capacity of existing cables or lay new cables to accommodate the growing traffic. This may involve deploying more advanced cable technologies, such as higher-capacity fibre-optic cables and even new cable routes to better serve regions with high demand.

Technological Advancements: To meet the escalating demand for bandwidth, there’s a continuous drive towards developing more efficient and higher-capacity submarine cable systems. This includes advancements in cable design, such as improved transmission technologies, as well as innovations in network management and monitoring systems to optimise performance and reliability.

Economic Impact: The investment required to meet rising bandwidth demand through submarine cables is substantial. Cable laying projects involve significant upfront costs for planning, surveying, manufacturing, and installation. However, the economic benefits can be considerable, as robust telecommunications infrastructure is critical for supporting economic growth, trade, and innovation on a global scale.

Resilience and Redundancy: As submarine cables become increasingly vital for global connectivity, ensuring their resilience and redundancy becomes paramount. Cable operators must implement measures to protect cables from natural disasters, marine activity, and other potential hazards. Additionally, establishing redundant cable routes and interconnection points helps mitigate the risk of service disruptions due to cable breaks or maintenance activities.

Environmental Considerations: The installation and maintenance of submarine cables can have environmental implications, such as potential disturbances to marine ecosystems during cable laying operations. As awareness of environmental issues grows, there’s a greater emphasis on implementing sustainable practices and minimising the ecological footprint of submarine cable projects.

Overall, rising bandwidth demand underscores the critical importance of submarine cables in facilitating global communications and connectivity. Meeting this demand requires ongoing investment, innovation, and collaboration among industry stakeholders to ensure the resilience, efficiency, and sustainability of submarine cable infrastructure.

Oceans & Cables Limited is a company based in Malta, founded in 2014, operating in the submarine cable industry and related technical services, working with various industries and markets globally. Our specialisation is in the consultancy, planning and implementation of the submarine cable industry for governmental entities, commercial corporations, and offshore energy companies around the world. For more information about Oceans & Cables, please contact us on info@oceanscables.com.

Article written by Ms Charlene Sciberras, Director at Oceans & Cables Limited.