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Why the Cable Landing Station Matters


While much of the conversation about security breaches has centered on the cables as they lay on the ocean floor, the more vulnerable point for disruption could very well be at the landing site itself.

An important part to making an ecosystem of multiple subsea and terrestrial routes is carrier neutrality. A data center campus that is carrier-neutral is superior in that it cannot sell services that carriers would sell. The facility only provides the real estate and the power and cooling, allowing multiple carriers to operate independently of each other. This model avoids the facility having a vested interest in one carrier over another. Another benefit of being carrier-neutral is it encourages carriers to operate at their peak performance. They all compete on an even playing field, which then lets their network architecture dictate the best way to get things done. Being carrier-neutral allows for increased capacity as well, as multiple carriers—even if they are competitors—can meet at a single location and feel comfortable using the existing infrastructure because they’re not going to compete with their landlord. All these factors considered, a carrier-neutral facility is more cost-effective and scalable while also offering redundancy, flexibility and a reduced risk of data loss. 

Along with connectivity, security at the cable landing site is key. In fact, security is so crucial that U.S. cable landing sites now fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security and are considered “hardened infrastructure.” According to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the concentration of cable landing sites in very few physical locations and the relative ease in finding documented cable routes and cable termination points could facilitate the targeting of the submarine cable network by bad actors.

According to the publication The Maritime Executive, the UK National Security Advisor recently stated “you can achieve the same effect as used to be achieved in, say, World War II by bombing the London docks or taking out a power station by going after the physical infrastructure of cyberspace in the form of Internet undersea cables.”

While much of the conversation about security breaches has centered on the cables as they lay on the ocean floor, the more vulnerable point for disruption could very well be at the landing site itself. A report in The Times newspaper just last year detailed how a journalist stumbled upon a landing site in Cornwall and gained access to sensitive areas. Security at the landing site is crucial and taken very seriously in the U.S.

To bring these points together, let’s consider the ideal scenario for a cable landing station. It’s a facility located at the point where subsea cables from the domestic U.S., South America and Europe meet—at the United States’ easternmost edge—offering service providers, enterprises, carrier-neutral operators and cable companies direct interconnection options directly at the cable-head without recurring cross-connect fees. This scenario is truly a paradigm shift from traditional fiber backhaul to the nearest metro area without consideration of potential bottlenecks found in congested areas such as New York and northern New Jersey. Having multiple physical subsea sea cables interconnecting with multiple backhaul fiber providers facilitates the most reliable global network architecture available—a necessity as we consider what the coming years will bring in terms of network evolution, demand for bandwidth, increasing data volumes, and evolving security threats.



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