Blame Poor Internet Connection on Shark Attacks on Undersea Web Cables

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By Vittorio Hernandez | August 18, 2014 9:11 AM EST

Many Gmail and Facebook users have experienced problems logging on to their accounts over the weekend, probably caused by high Internet traffic on Saturdays and Sunday.

REUTERS/Andrea Comas
A grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) swims inside a tank during a presentation of the European Shark Week in the Madrid's Zoo Aquarium October 14, 2011. Members of the Shark Alliance in Europe run a week of activities demanding that policy makers secure the future health of shark populations.

However, one other possible cause behind the connectivity problems that netizens may have experienced are sharks  biting underwater Internet cables, Google Product Manager Dan Belcher told Network World, a technology news site in the US. Google has footage showing the sharks chewing on the cables. A small bite by the deadly creatures could destroy the fibre optic  cables.

One theory behind the attraction of the sharks to the cables are the electrical currents that are transmitted by the cable. The Verge said the sharks could be confused by the electromagnetic fields emitted from the cables since they could also detect bioelectric fields generated by fish.

Shark Lab operator Chris Lowe at California State University theorised the sharks could be just showing their curiosity.

To address the problem, Google has started to cover its cables with Kevlar, a material used in bulletproof vests and even mobile phones.

Other problems encountered by the cables are damage from fishing trawlers, anchors, earthquakes and water pressure at depth.

Underwater cables are one way that telcos address the growing demand for data as more people get connected to the Internet. Recently, Google and five other telcos agreed to fund a 3,000-kilometre trans-Pacific cable network  to link the U.S. and Japan. Named FASTER, the cable network would cost $300 million, reports NDTV.

Its initial capacity would be 60 terabits a second, connecting Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco, Oregon and Seattle to Chikura and Shima in Japan.

Construction starts immediately and NEC Corporation, the system supplier for the cable network, said the network would be ready for service by the second quarter of 2016. It would have the capacity to connect to the cable systems of other Asian nations.

Other telcos involved in the projects are China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI Corporation and Singapore Telecommunications. Google, which runs the super-fast Fiber TV and Internet Service in the Kansas City metropolitan area and trying to expand to more U.S. cities, is also part of the venture.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Andrea Comas / )
A grey reef shark (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) swims inside a tank during a presentation of the European Shark Week in the Madrid's Zoo Aquarium October 14, 2011. Members of the Shark Alliance in Europe run a week of activities demanding that policy makers secure the future health of shark populations.
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