Subsea Cable Demand Post COVID-19

John TibblesBy John Tibbles
May 18, 2020


Forecasting demand for subsea cable capacity is never easy, so there won’t be any figures here just some thoughts.

‘Crises Create Change’ is hardly a new observation or comment but for most of us, in Europe at least, alive today we have not seen anything on the scale of the pandemic of 2020. The general view is that one had to live through WW2 to have any similar experience. Many allusions are made to ‘the war’ by politicians and media but they are generally spurious as there is no visible enemy and national boundaries are respected even less than in wartime. Europe in wartime was of course about one thing-staying alive. However, in the United States the war, still very much a crisis was fought somewhere else but its impact still profound.

WW2 launched changes in the US economy that endured and fundamentally changed American economics. The incredible production capacity and capability shown by the United States from 1942 brought about the beginnings of the Interstate Highway network, the basis for a nationwide and transcontinental airline network and perhaps most relevant to this article the Bell System Long Distance Network. Each of which had a huge economic multiplier effect that propelled the US to become the world’s largest economy

Thus, a crisis can bring good as well as bad but that depends to a degree where you are and when your timelines start. Let’s say our timeline starts in January 2020 – just before the annual global telecoms conference known as PTC. Appropriately for this topic it is held in Hawaii, almost exactly equidistant from Washington and Beijing.

The Subsea Cable World in January 2020

‘Our’ world, as it relates to the silent invisible digital highways under the oceans was a busy one. The entry of big data in to the subsea cable arena some years before had been disruptive but it had brought very high levels of growth in capacity available. Some traditional players were pushed out of the market and others motivated to dig in and defend their position. Either way there were several major new cables and a lot of new even higher capacity cables were in the planning and development stage.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 112 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 39 or on our archive site here.