If you’re reading this blog, congratulations, you’re one of 3.2 billion people using the Internet today! We couldn’t imagine life without it, but chances are, you don’t know how the Internet actually gets to these fine Australian shores and ultimately, into the device in front of you. Anyone over the age of 25 would probably remember the dial-up days where you had to unplug the phone so you could connect to the Internet. Oh, such cherished memories.
So how does something like the Internet, a valuable global commodity, now seen as a necessity for everyday life, make it to our land down under, and into your palm? It’s an interesting story.
The 5 Epic Cable Networks
We bet you didn’t know the Internet is connected to countries around the world by fibre optic submarine cables that run through the ocean and connect at each end via data centres. Data centres are where the Internet first arrives in each country, and contain Internet servers owned by different Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from all around the globe. This means each Service Provider in each country can access a portion of the Internet, and provide it to their customers.
Seems simple enough, right? But like most things, the engineering and mechanics involved are quite complex. Connecting Australia to the Internet for example, requires five different underwater cables being fed into Sydney and Perth, which then reach the rest of the country via underground cables. The Southern Cross Cable Network for example, is over 30,000 kilometres long and connects from California to Hawaii, then to New Zealand, a quick stopover in Sydney, a short break in Fiji, back to Hawaii for a layover, and finally settling in Oregon, USA.
This isn’t even the longest cable that Australia is connected to. The SeaMeWe-3 Cable Network is over 39,000 kms long and stretches from Northern Europe, springs off to Perth and ends in South Korea. Fibre optic submarine cables of this magnitude are as deep into the ocean as Mt Everest is tall. They require hundreds of millions of dollars to install and of course, need safety measures like shark-proof wire wrappers to make sure nothing munches through a cable when we’re five hours deep into a Netflix How I Met Your Mother marathon.
From the Ground to Data Centres to the Skys
Back to the data centres. Some Australian data centres can be as big as airports, or as little as a townhouse; it all depends on the area they are serving! This data centre pictured above is a snapshot of one of our servers in Sydney. We own our own independent network (that’s right!, we’re an alternative to the NBN!), so from this centre we connect fibre-optic cables to our Points of Presence (PoPs) closer to where you work or live, and then place our Super-Fast radios at these PoPs. From the radios, we can beam fixed-wireless Internet across the sky right into your living room or office! It’s Sky-Speed Internet!
Told you it was an interesting story. Cables over 30,000 kilometres stretching across the globe plugged right into our country and beamed into your home or office. As Australia’s fastest-rated ISP* and a bloody fast alternative to the NBN, we like to think we’ve got a good handle on this process, allowing us to provide you with a good service and some interesting tidbits along the way.