A visual guide to undersea cables and their $5.5B price tag

The U.S., the Netherlands, France, the UK and Germany are all mega users of bandwidth, using more than 10 terabytes of capacity to feed their web surfing needs.
But the rest of the world is continuing to demand more broadband, and the industry of undersea cables and long haul broadband providers has spent up to $5.5 billion to meet that demand with new cables coming online in 2012 and 2013, according to TeleGeography.

The analysis firm released its latest submarine cable map that shows all of the new pipelines as well as what carious countries use and prices along major routes. The trend is clear. The world is coming online and these cables are the lifeblood of that online awakening. From the report:

As demand for international bandwidth continues to increase—growing 45 percent in 2011 — operators around the world are upgrading their existing network infrastructure and making substantial investments in new cable construction to keep pace. TeleGeography projects that USD5.5 billion worth of new submarine cables will enter service during 2012 and 2013.

The construction feeding our broadband demand today is far less costly than the construction that occurred in the midst of the telecom boom of the late 90s and early 00s, but spending is still significant. In 2000 and 2001, 36 new cables came online with a total cost of $17 billion. It took the next nine years to surpass that number –from 2002 to 2011 operators spent $17.9 billion. TeleGeography counts cable construction spending when the pipes come online, so they estimate that $5.5 billion worth as the spending on cables that come online this year and next. For stats and maps on our growing undersea cable empire, check out the map.