Out of Sight, Not out of Mind: A User-View on the Criticality of the Submarine Cable Network

Shucheng Liu, Zachary S. Bischof, Ishaan Madan, Peter K. Chan, Fabián E. Bustamante

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Scopus citations


Nearly all international data is carried by a mesh of submarine cables connecting virtually every region in the world. It is generally assumed that Internet services rely on this submarine cable network (SCN) for backend traffic, but that most users do not directly depend on it, as popular resources are either local or cached nearby. In this paper, we study the criticality of the SCN from the perspective of end users. We present a general methodology for analyzing the reliance on the SCN for a given region, and apply it to the most popular web resources accessed by users in 63 countries from every inhabited continent, collectively capturing ≈80% of the global Internet population. We find that as many as 64.33% of all web resources accessed from a specific country rely on the SCN. Despite the explosive growth of data center and CDN infrastructure around the world, at least 28.22% of the CDN-hosted resources traverse a submarine cable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationIMC 2020 - Proceedings of the 2020 ACM Internet Measurement Conference
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9781450381383
StatePublished - Oct 27 2020
Event20th ACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2020 - Virtual, Online, United States
Duration: Oct 27 2020Oct 29 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings of the ACM SIGCOMM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC


Conference20th ACM Internet Measurement Conference, IMC 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityVirtual, Online

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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