internet Creative Commons License photo credit: kalleboo

In December 2008, a “fault” in three of the undersea cables under the Mediterranean Sea denied Internet service to thousands of subscribers in Egypt, India and the Middle East.

It’s hard to explain to people how the Internet connects together, especially to users in North America who have a hard time understanding about the world beyond our own shores. Communications don’t happen by magic - there are cables laid all around the world by commercial interests. Since much of the worldwide traffic is routed through hubs in the United States, American users rarely notice cable-induced outages.

Across the ocean, however, the Internet is more susceptible to damage. Regional links are expensive to maintain when much of the outgoing traffic is bound for North America anyway. The result is a small number of backbone connections servicing major routes across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.