DM

Washington

Experts this week have warned the internet could be running out of space, but it could also be under a completely different threat - sharks.

Google protects its underwater data cables from shark bites with a hi-tech material, according to one of its employees. The fibre optic cables are responsible for carrying the world’s internet traffic, and they are protected from knocks that could break the glass tubes, as well as from shark bites that could break the backbone of the internet.

One of the search giant’s product managers told Network World that the firm uses a Kevlar-like material to provide extra cushioning for cables in the Pacific in order to protect them from shark bites. Kevlar is a high-strength armoured synthetic fibre designed by DuPont, and it seems that Google uses its own equivalent.

It is thought that the creatures are so interested in the cables because of the magnetic field they create, which is similar to those made by fish in distress. Sharks may chomp on the cables in the mistaken belief they are about to get an easy meal.

Lasers are used in the fibre optic cables to send information through glass. Data can be transmitted at speeds of up to one gigabit per second, which is around 100 times faster than copper connections, which appear to be unappealing to sharks. The fibres are encased in plastic coatings in different colours, then wrapped in a protective layer of Kevlar-like material before being sheathed in a polyurethane jacket.

Not only does this provide cushioning from knocks and movement, the coating prevents electricity leaking and minimises electrical and magnetic fields emitted. Google has not commented on the attacks, but experts claim it is likely other companies also take measures to protect their cables from apex predators.