20 May 2020

Demistify the Internet

It’s a pretty simple system, you go to your internet service provider and select a plan that suits your needs and pay your monthly subscription fee and you should be browsing the internet with the speeds and bandwidth that you have paid for. Unfortunately, it seldom comes across as that simple and there are times when just restarting your modem or calling up customer service will do the trick as there might be faulty issues with the APCN2.

What is the APCN2 and why does it concern my internet connection? To answer that we must first understand that although most of us have the idea that the internet is being beamed down to us from satellites in the sky and that the “internet” resides in the sky, it actually is the opposite with the information on the internet being stores in servers across the globe and our internet is actually brought to us via undersea submarine telecommunication cables. The one that directly affects Malaysia is the Asia Pacific Cable Network 2 (APCN2) which connects Kuantan, Malaysia to Lantau, China and when it experiences faults or damage it will cause us as users to have slower speeds and it will be up to our internet service providers to resolve these issues. Are you still with us?

To give you a better understanding of how a cable under the sea is providing us with internet access, you have to take a look at how the cable is designed. The undersea cables are placed on the ocean floor across the world and are layered in such a way to provide maximum protection and flexibility for the optical fibers that are responsible for the transmission of data from one end to the other. However, these cables are not indestructible and although placed in areas that have been surveyed and optimized for the safety and preservation of the cables would still be exposed to the elements such as debris or damage from sea animals. Additional hazards that may damage the cable also extend to human intervention where fishing or drilling activities may cause damage as well.

The APCN2 that we mentioned is a 19,000KM cable that links our country with many of our southeast Asia neighbors and are jointly managed and serviced by each of the connected countries and their internet service providers. That may seem like a tedious effort, to lay that long of a cable on the sea bed as well as to monitor and repair said cable when there are problems that arise but compared to the use of satellites, the cost to return ratio is still much lower with faster data transmission which means that it is a much cheaper alternative and is the reason we don’t pay more than we do today to access the internet.

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