Undersea cables are responsible for moving data between countries and continents at high speeds, making everything from photo sharing to financial transactions possible. These cables use fiber optics to move data at high speeds to land, where the data is then conveyed via fiber optics to homes and businesses. Yet, despite the billions of people relying on the data moved by undersea cables, there are only about 380 of them worldwide as of 2019, according to CNN estimates, though they span more than 745,000 miles—or more than three times the distance to the moon.
Given the sheer scope of undersea cables, which often span entire oceans, The New York Times estimates an individual undersea cable project can cost up to $350 million. That is why these cables have historically been laid by global telecommunications firms with the deep pockets and technical expertise necessary to undertake these projects. However, tech companies are increasingly dominating both the use and implementation of undersea cables.