Rewiring (Tele)Geography

The NY Times recently reported on the tendency of countries to redirect internet traffic away from the United States. Intelligence agencies have previously been gifted with the convenience of a large majority of international internet usage eventually finding its way through US cables. This trend has been reversing in the last 5-8 years, as the US falls woefully behind up-to-date submarine cable updates, and as increased intraregional networks offer an ability to keep terabytes more local.

Several regions have witnessed dramatic shifts in internet use that has put considerable economic pressure (and opportunism) on expansion. Latin America, Asia, and Africa have reduced their rerouting dependence on the US to 70%, 55%, and 5% respectively.

Probably most significant in that map is what is referred to as the SEA-ME-WE 4 (South East Asia, Middle East, Western Europe 4) cable route which is funneled through the Mediterranean, Suez, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean. It creates a intraregional link from Marseilles to Singapore. January 30, 2008 saw the severing of the SEA-ME-WE 4 and FLAG network, providing an opportune moment to upgrade the network.

What appears initially as (invisible) lines on a global map suddenly can be read as the very modern day gates and thresholds that assert the power, economic vitality, cultural credentials driving competitive urbanism. Villages such as Tarifa, Spain, strategically positioned as a constricted data threshold between the Atlantic and Mediterranean hubs, become a key information harbor at the scale of the data intraregion.

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