Back reflection: The “Light Years” of the bubble 1998-2005

José ChesnoyBy José Chesnoy
March 19, 2018


One can find interesting nuggets in a book published in French in 2005: “Du Morse à l’Internet” (Reference 1), written by Gérard Fouchard, René Salvador, Yves Rolland, and Alain Leclerc. In this “back reflection” issue of the SubTel Forum magazine, we propose you a translation of a selected part of this book in which one can guess that Jean Devos also contributed.

This selected part present the vision of the formation and the outburst of the Internet bubble that impacted telecommunications and especially submarine cables in early years 2000.

When you read this article, please remember that it was written in 2005, about halfway between the advent of the first optical cable, and now, and you will enjoy how fresh it is 18 years later.

The flight forward and the excesses

As of 1997, there are three main business models that are fighting for promotion of new submarine cables:

  • The traditional large Operators that became competitors through the deregulation. From their “local” origin, they fight together to become “global”.
  • The « New » operators who expand to compete locally and globally with incumbents in their historical areas, thanks to deregulation. BT must compete against C & W, ATT against MCl, Sprint, GTE and WorldCom, who all need a global network.
  • Finally, the « Carrier’s carriers », entrepreneurs and investors, following the Global Crossing success story, nurturing the ambition to sell capacity to all operators and end users.

Analysts predict an explosion of capacity requirements. This catches the greed of the big global financial and industrial groups, especially US based. Projects with excessive ambition are first promoted, such as Africa One or Oxygen (see the diagram on Figure 1). Oxygen is an ambitious, innovative but totally unrealistic idea: a single 300,000 km network open to all users with 300 access points!

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 99 of the SubTel Forum magazine here on page 72.