We often forget that, but the Internet is not virtual. 99% of the global network capacity is supported by millions of kilometers of cables installed under the oceans. With the increase in traffic due to the containment, Orange had to make adjustments to its subsea installations.
franceinfo: what interventions did you have to make on your submarine cables?
Jean-Luc Vuillemin, director of international networks and services for the operator Orange : due to confinement, like all global operators, we are facing an increase in traffic and therefore, we are mobilizing more capacity on submarine cables. This concerns in particular the links which connect us to the United States, because approximately 80% of the traffic generated by French Internet users leaves for the United States via these links.
Irrespective of confinement, Orange is deploying a new 6,500 km submarine cable, dubbed Dunant, to cope with increased communications in the future. How does such an operation take place?
Deploying an undersea cable is a very complex operation. It starts with a study of the seabed and a mapping called a survey. Then, there is an engineering phase which consists of designing the cable, to measure, and the active equipment which will be laid out every 80/100 km in order to regenerate the signal in the optical fiber. Then, the cable is unwound at the bottom of the water using a cable ship. Near the coast, it is buried several meters deep, to prevent it from being accidentally torn off by boat anchors.
What happens if one of these cables is broken?
These cables are not indestructible, and they can be cut or torn off. They are also vulnerable to telluric movements and landslides. In this case, traffic can be interrupted. The consequences for internet users depend on the number of cables serving a country. France is a fairly well-equipped country with around twenty cables across the Atlantic, which guarantees us a certain level of operational safety.