Published Works,  Technology Column

Tech 32

Tech #32
December 12, 1997

After 27 months of construction and a $1.5 billion dollar price tag the FLAG undersea fiber optic cable which links Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the Far East has entered into service. A main share holder in the property is our local phone company, Bell Atlantic. It’s remarkable when you consider that FLAG is the longest man-made structure ever, at just over 28,000kms. The cable can accommodate a maximum of ten gigabytes per second, roughly equivalent to 600,000 simultaneous telephone conversations. Beside being a source of revenue to Bell Atlantic share holders, what does FLAG do for you and me?

“The recent economic impact study put out by O.D.U. says that there are 128,000 port or port related jobs. That’s big.” says Linda Ford, Director of Port Promotions, Port of Virginia. “While that covers every port in Virginia, it’s safe to say that thousands and thousands of Hampton Roads jobs depend on the shipping industry.” Ford added. We all see the cargo ships, but I didn’t realize that on the east coast Hampton Roads is second only to New York in global container shipments. “The whole shipping business is using new technology, from the Internet to wire transactions. Customs is now a paper-less process.” Ford told me.

The impact here is on how we’re becoming connected. From the United Kingdom to the United Arab Emirates. From Hong Kong to Hampton Roads. Instant, high speed connections from every major port on the globe to computers sitting on the desk of your next-door neighbor. The most exciting thing about that distant glass cable sitting at the bottom of the Pacific is that this is just the beginning.