Wired UK — Global Hookups

The internet. It's ubiquitous, it's instant, it's...magical, right? But have you ever stopped to wonder how those cat meme videos from across the globe make it onto your screen in a blink? The answer lies beneath the waves, in a hidden world of cables barely thicker than garden hosepipe, snaking across the ocean floor, connecting continents and cultures.

Set Reset partnered with Wired UK to visualise this unseen infrastructure, and to uncover the who's who of this vital digital landscape. What we discovered was a fascinating story of ownership, power, and the ever-evolving nature of the internet itself.

Our dive into the data revealed that a select group of private companies control the majority of these undersea cables. The US, unsurprisingly, takes the lead, with its tech giants like Google playing an increasingly prominent role. But don't underestimate the UK's presence. As an island nation and a pioneer of the internet, British companies hold a significant stake in this subsea web.

Traditionally, the telecoms industry has been the backbone of internet infrastructure. However, the rise of tech giants like Google and Meta is shaking things up. These companies are now investing heavily in their own cable networks, driven by the ever-growing demand for data and the desire for greater control over online traffic.

This shift in ownership raises crucial questions about the future of the internet. Who gets to decide how these undersea cables are used? Will net neutrality, the principle of treating all internet traffic equally, stand the test of time? And how will this evolving landscape impact the way we access and experience the online world?


Wired UK

Project team

Paul Button Bob Wilson