These Are The Three Guys Who Want to Bring The Internet Underseas

by Owen James Burke


Manu Ignatius, Shanmugam Mpl, Tian Chang Ong (Photo: Dave Herholz)

Because it’s almost 2015 and how much longer should we go on without being able to post Facebook updates from the deep?

What Subnero, an Asia-based startup intent on providing subsea internet service could do for ocean exploration could be monumental.

Why aren’t we there yet? Radio waves don’t work in water, and sound waves get very jumbled, and the speed of sound varies with changes in temperature, salinity and pressure,which are all omnipresent variables in the briny deep.

Then there’s bio-noise from marine critters. In the tropics, for example, there’s so much ambient noise around a reef, like the crackling sound of snapping shrimp, which stun their prey with an ear-splitting clap of the claw, that it would be nearly impossible to separate technological sounds from biological ones. Still, the team has licensed the technology for a decade, and they’re in no position to call it quits now.


Subnero is working on deploying a spread of nodes (underwater modems) so that messages can take multiple routes in order to reach a receiver. This way, if one node fails, theres a chance that one or more others might still pick up the transmission.

“We have been going to space for 50 years and we can communicate between planetary systems. But we’re still not very good at communicating underwater. We haven’t even explored more than a few percentage points of the ocean,” says Manu Ignatius, (one of the original developers of the technology at the National University of Singapore).

I like the solace that I can find under the sea, and just knowing that the internet could be lurking not only above me but below me when I’m out there kinda scares me. But then again, I could be posting this from an undersea habitat within a few years, and maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Read more at Tech in Asia — OB

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