The Undersea Network
Gateway: From Cable Colony to Network Operations Center
This chapter details the history of the transoceanic cable station. It describes how stations served as a gateway to undersea networks, a site of connection to local publics, and a zone where boundaries between system and environment are contested. The first three sections of the chapter cover the three periods of cable development. In the colonial cable station, the cable worker’s body was the crux of network operation and a site to be regulated. In the Cold War era cable station, the boundary between the network and environment shifted from the body to the station’s built architecture. In the fiber-optic era, strategies of insulation regulate the terrain of information. The chapter highlights how investments in the station’s architecture simultaneously differentiated the inside and outside of the network and interconnected connected the system locally. The chapter illustrates the critical importance of cable station labor to the maintenance of information networks.