Know your subsea cables

18 Jul 2011

For those of you who have been looking for a free browser-based interactive global map of the world’s submarine cable maps, Durban-based software developer Greg Mahlknecht has just what you need.

“Greg’s Cable Map” is a compendium of the world’s subsea cables (or at least all the ones with a capacity above 1 Gbps, unless cables with lower capacities serve as critical links for a given country), showing not only their location but info such as length, capacity, landing points and web site URLs. You can also filter the map to show active and future cables, and display cables active before, during and after a given year.

Mahlknecht tells TechCentral (for whom he sometimes contributes as a columnist) his motivations:

“I saw the Telegeography map and wanted one, but found it cost US$250,” he says. “I didn’t want it that badly and looked for a free alternative to print out but couldn’t find one. I realised a free version needed to be made.”

Interestingly, Mahlknecht compiled the raw data for the map entirely from publicly available resources, using Wikipedia as a starting point and Googling the rest. Which, of course, means that while it’s a handy reference tool, user discretion is also advised in terms of accuracy.

That said, Mahlknecht has made the raw data available for download under a General Public License, and intends to improve the map’s accuracy over time via user contributions and feedback.

(It’s worth clarifying that the $250 Telegeography map Mahlknecht mentions is a wall poster – Telegeography does offer hi-res digital copies of its subsea cable maps for free on its web site.)

For further subsea cable fun: see this collection of non-interactive maps showing the history of subsea cables from the 1850s to today.

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