The vulnerabilities in the world’s largest coastal communications cable network and a major solar storm will leave many countries in the world without the Internet. This is the result of a new study by experts from the University of California, Berkeley, which assesses how space weather affects the Internet’s infrastructure.
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Electromagnetic fluctuations caused by extreme solar storms do not directly damage the fiber optic cables that make up the backbone of the Internet, but they do have the potential to remove the signal amplifiers found with submarine cables needed to maintain long-distance connections.
In addition to Internet access disruptions, solar storms can also cause widespread resistance by carrying high power levels and shutting down GPS systems.
Today’s long-distance Internet connections run on fiber optic cables, in which light pulses transmit information beyond silicon fibers. Due to this, the cables are not easily exposed to direct magnetic induced currents. However, Professor Abdujothi explains that the head of the work cannot say this about ‘repeaters’. These devices act as signal amplifiers, ensuring that the signal is not overly distorted when it reaches the other end of the connection. Repeaters are built with electronic components, which means they can be damaged by a solar storm. The connection may stop working, so this site is more vulnerable in the event of a widespread network failure.