Coastline Buried Internet Infrastructure At Risk

Coastline Buried Internet Infrastructure At Risk

telcoWith the ever-changing world climate, the internet infrastructure in coastal lines of the United States could be impacted. From buried fiber optic cables, data centers, traffic exchanges and termination point could be under water within 15 years.

The study led by Carol Bradford who directs the UW-Madison’s Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment and former student Ramakrishna Duraifana now of the University of Oregon. The study stated by the year 2033 more than 4,000 buried fiber optic conduits will be underwater, and more than 1,100 traffic hubs will be surrounded by water.

Cities like New York, Miami and Seattle will be impacted, the ripple effects would be disastrous across the internet per Bradford. It could potentially disrupt the global communications network.

The peer-reviewed study combined data from the Internet Atlas and the forecast of sea level incursion from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The study only evaluates the infrastructure risks in the United States, it was shared with the academic and industry researchers at the Applied Networking Research Workshop, a meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Internet Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

The current buried infrastructure flows in parallel to highways and coastlines in what we call “rights of ways or ROW”. When it was build 20-25 years ago no one thought to include climate change into the equation.

Many of the ROW are already too close to sea level and only a slight rise in the ocean levels could expose the buried fiber optic cables to sea water.

Buried optic cables are designed to be water-resistant, but only marine cables that transport data from continent to continent under the ocean are waterproof.

With the large population centers on the coasts that coincide with the transoceanic marine cables that underpin global communication network ashore. “The landing point are all going to be underwater in a short period of time” noted Bradford

Trying to prevent such a disaster will requires to protect those infrastructures but it is going to be difficult to keep the sea water at bay.

The study examined the risk to the buried assets of individual internet service providers. It found the networks of AT&T, CenturyLink and Inteliquent to be at highest risk.

Like the water infrastructure deterioration in the United States we are now faced with another situation with buried telecommunication. The finding for this study is another wake-up call for the telecommunication industry and government.

The question remain is the industry and the government will act on it or ignore the early signs?

Are we waiting for another catastrophic storm surges and flooding that accompanied hurricanes like Sandy and Katrina? If we do not start to look for solution the coastline could paralyzed our internet infrastructure to the point businesses will be impacted across the United states