Reducing off Europe? A Take a look at How the Continent Connects to the World

With the latest harm to the Nord Stream fuel pipeline, there’s been plenty of discuss in regards to the potential threat to submarine telecommunications cables in Europe.

This incident has led to hypothesis about whether or not it could be potential to by some means “reduce off” Europe from the remainder of the world. Whereas I do not wish to speculate on the danger of sabotage, I did assume it could be worthwhile to clarify precisely how the continent connects to the remainder of the world. 

Though the common particular person might imagine knowledge is primarily touring by way of satellites from Europe to the remainder of the world, the fact is that the overwhelming majority of intercontinental knowledge is carried on submarine cables laid on the ocean ground.

It’s essential to know that satellite tv for pc networks don’t have the bandwidth to switch what cables present. (I mentioned this concern in a webinar earlier this 12 months.)

Satellites would permit some stage of knowledge transmission between Europe and the remainder of the world, however would fail dramatically as a whole substitute.

Right here’s extra dangerous information: undersea cables are fragile. On common, 2-4 cables break someplace on this planet each week. Given this example, the submarine cable trade is sharply centered on efforts to mitigate threat to cables. Cables are closely armored and buried in fault-prone areas.

Submarine cables are additionally protected by a strong system of response and restore. Dozens of cable ships are standing by to restore broken cables.   

Security in Numbers

Europe advantages from numerous cables. Injury to a single cable would have minimal impression on community efficiency as a result of availability of different paths.

Injury to a single cable would have minimal impression on community efficiency as a result of availability of different paths.

Our interactive submarine cable map is a good place to view the big variety of submarine cables linked to Europe. 

Current and Deliberate Submarine Cables Related to Europe

Existing and Planned Submarine Cables Connected to Europe


Europe’s submarine cable connectivity between different areas is targeted alongside a couple of main corridors.


Europe is linked to North America by way of 17 cables. Nearly all of trans-Atlantic cables land within the U.Okay. and France, however Denmark, Norway, Eire, and Spain even have landings.

Keep in mind that the capability of the cables varies dramatically. The brand-new Grace Hopper cable, which hyperlinks the U.Okay. and Spain to the U.S., has a possible capability of 352 Tbps. In distinction, the older Yellow cable is able to solely 25 Tbps.

The trans-Atlantic route accounted for 75% of Europe’s complete interregional bandwidth in 2021.

Share of European Interregional Bandwidth by Area, 2021

Share of European Interregional Bandwidth by Region, 2021 TG

Europe-West & North Africa

There are six main Europe-West African cable programs, together with 11 smaller cables that hyperlink Southern Europe to Northern Africa (excluding Egypt).

The brand new Equiano cable might be activated by the tip of 2022, adopted by the expansive 2Africa cable the next 12 months.

Europe-Egypt & the Center East

Presently, 13 cable programs hyperlink Europe to Egypt and the Center East. The overwhelming majority of those cables are linked to Egypt. These programs are additionally accountable for carrying knowledge between Asia and Europe.

Past these three main corridors, Europe does have a couple of different intercontinental choices. The EllaLink cable hyperlinks Portugal to Brazil, and the Caucasus Cable System spans the Black Sea, linking Bulgaria to Georgia with terrestrial connectivity to different nations within the Caucasus area. 

What About Land-based Choices?

There are, in fact, terrestrial networks that hyperlink Europe to Asia. These networks characteristic far much less capability than what is out there on subsea cables, however extra importantly, all of them go by way of Russia (perhaps not a most popular routing lately).

For Europe to the Center East, there are terrestrial hyperlinks from Bulgaria-Turkey all the way down to the Center East. This feature lacks the capability to completely exchange subsea connectivity on the route.

General, terrestrial choices simply aren’t a viable back-up choice for all of Europe’s interregional capability.

General, terrestrial choices simply aren’t a viable back-up choice for all of Europe’s interregional capability.

Europe as a Hub

Let’s not low cost the position Europe performs as a serious community interconnection hub for Africa and the Center East.

As of year-end 2021, 97% of Africa’s interregional bandwidth was linked to Europe, and for the Center East, that share was 90%. If Europe had been by some means reduce off from the remainder of the world, connectivity to those areas would even be considerably impaired.

Share of African and Center Jap Interregional Bandwidth Related to Europe, 2021

Share of African and Middle Eastern Interregional Bandwidth Connected to Europe, 2021 T

As this overview demonstrates, Europe has an array of numerous connectivity choices, with extra cables deliberate within the coming years.

Reducing off Europe from the remainder of the world wouldn’t be a easy job. For extra data on submarine cables and worldwide bandwidth demand, consult with our World Bandwidth Analysis Service.


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