Rest of World: "Sea Change — Google and Meta’s New Subsea Cables Mark A Tectonic Shift In How The Internet Works, And Who Controls It" by Andrew Blum and Carey Baraka

South African lines of steam navigation and cables in 1893. (Public domain.)

Writing in Rest Of World, Andrew Blum and Carey Baraka describe how Google and Meta are building a massive new undersea cable network to expand and improve Internet access to the 1.4 billion people who live in Africa. These immense infrastructure projects are as impressive and potentially world-changing as they were centuries ago when the tech giants of those days began laying telegraph cable. There is colossal good to be accomplished by this work, but there is a caution:

The Internet’s initial promise was to decentralize telecommunications, releasing consumers from the monopoly grip of telecomms incumbents. Over the last 30 years, the internet has done that, and much more. But undersea cables, owned by the Internet’s behemoths, hint at a return to where we started: a near future in which a select group of massive corporations have not merely tightened their hold on our online activity but have deliberately rebuilt the internet for their own use, according to their own specifications, from the ocean floor up. 

Full story here.