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Communications Under the SeasThe Evolving Cable Network and Its Implications$
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Bernard Finn and Daqing Yang

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780262012867

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262012867.001.0001

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Fiber-Optic Submarine Cables: Covering the Ocean Floor with Glass

Fiber-Optic Submarine Cables: Covering the Ocean Floor with Glass

(p.45) 4 Fiber-Optic Submarine Cables: Covering the Ocean Floor with Glass
Communications Under the Seas

Jeff Hecht

The MIT Press

This chapter examines the history of fiber-optic telecommunications, beginning with Charles Kao, who proposed the concept in 1966. The first transatlantic submarine cable would be the TAT-8, which proved more efficient in carrying traffic than first envisioned by Alec Reeves. In response to satellite communications, cable operators pointed out its limitations and problems, such as lack of security, echoes, and feedback. It was these factors that made fiber optics the only viable alternative for undersea cable. The rest of the chapter surveys its development to date, noting how in the mid-1970s fiber optics had turned the tables of satellite communications. The International Telecommunications Satellite Organizations fought back by cutting rates and making claims of reduced echoes and delays. In today’s world, however, fiber networks are beyond the world’s needs, and these large networks brought bankruptcy to certain firms such as Global Crossing.

Keywords:   fiber-optic telecommunications, Charles Kao, transatlantic submarine cable, TAT-8, Alec Reeves, satellite communications, fiber networks, Global Crossing

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