Glass is fragile especially when it's pulled into strands as thin as a human hair. Underwater fiber optic cables are susceptible to breakage from boat anchors, landslides and even shark bites!
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In January 2015, an undersea cable between Hong Kong and Vietnam was damaged for the fourth time in six months, a very high fiber cable outage rate for any cable deployment in the world.
It was suspected that a passing fishing trawler snagged the cable but an unlikely culprit may be nature itself.
Shark bites Fiber Optic Cable
An underwater camera used by a communication design and deployment company caught a shark chopping on one of Google's fiber cables in the region.
The incident happened a few months prior to this recent outage but may help explain the high number of fiber optic outages in this region. The sharks may be attracted to the slight electromagnetic waves or telluric currents that can hop on to the metal-jacket reinforced cable.
The deployment team will be using a Kevlar reinforced cable, hoping it can withstand the tremendous pressure of future shark bite.
Time will tell who will win the battle between nature and technology.
Fiber optics in offices and buildings do not need extra reinforcement. As a part of a well designed cabling system, these fragile cables are usually inaccessible to the public, hidden deep within IT rooms or suspended high above the ceiling tiles.