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Introduction. Why Submarine Cables?

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Chapter Summary

Submarine fiber optic cables are the foundation of the world's telecommunications systems. Each day, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) transmits 15 million messages via submarine cables to more than 8300 banking organizations, securities institutions and corporate customers in 208 countries and/or entities. The global cable network is composed of approximately 213 or so separate, diverse, and independent cable systems totaling about 877,122 km of fiber optic cables. Telecommunications represent only part of the value of modern submarine cables, and submarine cables are increasingly being used for other purposes. With regard to submarine cables, the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS) sought to strengthen the international communications regime by, inter alia, preserving the freedom to lay and repair submarine cables but at the same time requiring that these freedoms be exercised with due regard to the rights and jurisdiction of coastal States.

Keywords: coastal States; international communications; submarine cables; SWIFT; telecommunication systems; UNCLOS

10.1163/9789004260337_002
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