The first transcontinental cable laid in 1858. The cable connected the Ireland to Newfoundland. It made possible telegraph communication between England and Canada.
Though communication was expensive and limited to only a few words per hour at best, the speed of communication was unparalleled at the time.
“Instant” communication was a huge commercial hit, and it prompted a cable laying boom. By the year 1900, there was already over 200,000 kilometers (130,000 miles) of cable running along the ocean floor.
The first transatlantic telephone cables went into service in 1956, and 32 years later, the first fiber optic cable connected Europe and America.
Today, there are over 420 submarine cables in service, stretching over 1.1 million kilometers (700,000 miles) around the world. The cable network is clustered around information economy hotspots like New York City and Singapore, but cables connect to just about anywhere.
Remote Pacific islands and even obscure ocean towns in the Arctic Circle have such connections.