University of Wisconsin science professor Paul Barford and a team of researchers spent four years mapping what MIT Technology Review called “the paths taken by the long-distance fiber-optic cables that carry Internet data across the continental U.S.”
“The exact routes of those cables, which belong to major telecommunications companies such as AT&T and Level 3, have not been previously publicly viewable, despite the fact that they are effectively critical public infrastructure,” reported the Review’s San Francisco Bureau Chief Tom Simonite.
The map — shown above — is something of a breakthrough.
“Mapping the internet’s infrastructure has been thought of as a security risk — which is why some previous attempts have been illegal,” wrote Smithsonian.com’s Marissa Fessenden. “This time, however, the Department of Homeland Security has made the map and the data behind it available to the public through the project called Predict.”
In a comment to MIT Technology Review, Barford defends the release of the infrastructure map as an opportunity to “improve security by improving knowledge,” allowing people to more constructively work “to make the network more robust.”
Red boxes on the map indicate where broadband infrastructure lines connect.
As the previously illegal map shows, most of our state’s Internet infrastructure is concentrated on southern and coastal Maine, leaving the more rural northern and western portions of the state with less access to high-speed Internet.
Several efforts have been launched in recent years to address the problem of broadband access in Maine, seeking to expand Internet infrastructure to more rural areas.