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The Three Tiny Wires That Move All Your Data Under Oceans And Around The World

It doesn't take much to move all your information in the blink of an eye.

Posted on August 12, 2013, at 1:52 p.m. ET


There are over 550,000 miles of cable littering the ocean floor, shuttling unfathomable amounts of information across the globe at roughly the speed of light (they're also used by the government to monitor us, recent reports have revealed). In the U.S. alone, these fiber lines can transfer roughly 20.6 terabits per second, which comes out to about about 27,600,000 emails in the blink of an eye. As it turns out though, this impressive speed doesn't take very much in terms of wiring.

This photo, posted to imgur, shows that the majority of the actual cable is sheathing, used to protect the wires in the depths, leaving only a few strands to do the legwork of moving mountains of data from continent to continent (one imgur commenter claiming to be a fiber optic technician notes that this may be a sample cable, but calls it "a good example"). I mean, seriously, just look at all these cables!

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.