As regular readers may have noticed, I’ve been on vacation for the past week. What with being both a gadget addict and a technology writer, I tried to make it something of a cord-cutting, low-fi break. As we were camping there was little point lugging about laptop or tablet and I used my smartphone solely to check and process e-mails once a day, taking a self-imposed social networking break.
So there I was sitting on the beautiful Widemouth Bay beach (pictured above), entertained only by the beautifully old-school technology of a portable long wave radio tuned in to Test Match Special, feeling like I was a million miles away from the Internet that so dominates my working life.
And then I saw this:
Curious as to why such an unspectacular pole with nothing seemingly attached to it had such a prominent sign, I cracked and turned straight to my phone’s web browser to find out more. It turned out the pole actually marked the landing point for several major subterranean cables including TAT-14, GLO-1 and EIG, which are the main phone and internet connections between Europe and the US, India and Nigeria respectively.
Yes, I was in fact sitting directly above the backbone of the Internet itself and had I cared to dig down and break out an axe I could have (in an admittedly metaphorical sense) flooded the beach with 419 scam e-mails.
Of course, this discovery did in turn perhaps explain the unusual siting of this nearby cliff-top facility, a mysterious off-shoot branch of GCHQ, the British equivalent of the National Security Agency.
(Image credit: David Hawgood via Creative Commons licence.)