Technology from 1850 saves the Internet in Asia

How do you retrieve a 21mm-thick fiber-optic cable from 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface? Using 19th century technology, of course. On December 26th, Internet traffic across Asia was disrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that damaged several undersea fiber-optic cables south of Taiwan. The outage affected Internet users from Australia to Hong Kong to ...

604803_grapnel5.jpg
604803_grapnel5.jpg

How do you retrieve a 21mm-thick fiber-optic cable from 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface? Using 19th century technology, of course. On December 26th, Internet traffic across Asia was disrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that damaged several undersea fiber-optic cables south of Taiwan. The outage affected Internet users from Australia to Hong Kong to Singapore.

So today, six ships are dragging specially-designed grappling hooks called "grapnels" across the ocean floor in the hopes of snagging one of the damaged lines. Initial efforts have been hindered by lousy weather, but Global Marine, the same company that laid the first undersea telegraph lines between France and Britain in 1850, expects to have all of the cables repaired by February.

How do you retrieve a 21mm-thick fiber-optic cable from 2.5 miles below the ocean’s surface? Using 19th century technology, of course. On December 26th, Internet traffic across Asia was disrupted by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that damaged several undersea fiber-optic cables south of Taiwan. The outage affected Internet users from Australia to Hong Kong to Singapore.

So today, six ships are dragging specially-designed grappling hooks called “grapnels” across the ocean floor in the hopes of snagging one of the damaged lines. Initial efforts have been hindered by lousy weather, but Global Marine, the same company that laid the first undersea telegraph lines between France and Britain in 1850, expects to have all of the cables repaired by February.

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