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        經濟學人雙語:深海織夢



        筆譯、口譯、同聲傳譯:2017年9月21日,由Facebook和微軟共有的跨大西洋海底電纜敷設完工。自有海底光纖網絡有什么優點?數據盡數掌握在巨頭手中,有什么危害?一起來看一下。

        Internet infrastructure

        互聯網基礎設施

         

         

        Pipe dreams

        經濟學人雙語:深海織夢

         

        Technology companies are building their own undersea fibre-optic networks

        科技公司正在打造自己的海底光纖網絡

        | 只需再走6599公里

         

        WHEN Cyrus Field, an American businessman, laid the first trans-Atlantic cable in 1858, it was hailed as one of the great technological achievements of its time and celebrated with bonfires, fireworks and 100-gun salutes. Alas, the reason for the festivities soon went away. Within weeks the cable failed.

        當美國商人塞勒斯·菲爾德(Cyrus Field)在1858年敷設第一條橫跨大西洋的電纜時,人們盛贊它是當時最偉大的科技成就之一,他們用篝火、煙花和100響禮炮來慶祝。然而好景不長,不過幾周,電纜便損壞失靈了。

         

        On September 21st the completion of another trans-Atlantic cable was welcomed with much less ado. But it is remarkable nevertheless: dubbed Marea, Spanish for “tide”, the 6,600km bundle of eight fibre-optic threads, roughly the size of a garden hose, is the highest-capacity connection across the ocean. Stretching from Virginia Beach, Virginia, to Bilbao, Spain, it is capable of transferring 160 terabits of data every second, the equivalent of more than 5,000 high-resolution movies. It is jointly owned by Facebook and Microsoft.

        今年9月21日,又一條跨大西洋電纜完工。這次人們的歡慶方式要低調得多,但這并不影響它是一項非同凡響的成果:這條名為“馬雷亞”(Marea,西班牙語“潮汐”的意思)的電纜是目前容量最大的跨大西洋通信線路。它全長6600公里,由8條光纖線路組成,和花園用的水管差不多粗細。它從美國弗吉尼亞州的弗吉尼亞海灘(Virginia Beach)延伸至西班牙的畢爾巴鄂(Bilbao),每秒可以傳輸160Tb的數據,相當于5000多部高分辨率的電影。這條電纜由Facebook和微軟共有。

         

        Such ultra-fast fibre networks are needed to keep up with the torrent of dataflowing around the world. In 2016 traffic reached 3,544 terabits per second, roughly double the figure in 2014, according to TeleGeography, a market-research firm. And demand for international bandwidth is growing by 45% annually. Much traffic still comes from internet users, but a large and growing share is generated by big internet and cloud-computing companies syncing data across their networks of data centres around the world.

        為了跟上世界范圍內涌動的數據洪流,人們需要這種超高速光纖網絡。根據市場調研公司TeleGeography的數據,2016年通信流量達到每秒3544Tb,大約是2014年時的兩倍。對國際帶的需求也在以每年45%的速度增長。相當一部分通信流量仍然來自互聯網用戶,不過大型互聯網和云計算公司在它們遍布世界的數據中心網絡之間進行的數據同步也占了很大的比例,這一比例還在不斷增長。

         

         

        These firms used to lease all of their bandwidth from carriers such as BT and Level 3. But now they need so much network capacity that it makes more sense to lay their own dedicated pipes, particularly on long routes between their data centres. The Submarine Telecoms Forum, an industry body, reckons that 100,000km of submarine cable was laid in 2016, up from just 16,000km in 2015. TeleGeography predicts that a total of $9.2bn will be spent on such cable projects between 2016 and 2018, five times as much as in the previous three years.

        這些公司過去通常是從英國電信(BT)和美國Level 3之類的運營商那里租賃自己所用的全部帶寬。但現在它們對網絡容量的需求非常龐大,因此敷設自己的專用線路變得更加合理,尤其是在它們相隔甚遠的各個數據中心之間敷設線路。行業機構海底電信論壇(Submarine Telecoms Forum)估算,2016年敷設的海底電纜達10萬公里,而2015年僅有1.6萬公里。據TeleGeography預測,2016年至2018年間,總計會有92億美元花在這類電纜項目上,是之前三年的五倍之多。

         

        Owning a private subsea fibre-optic network has several advantages, including more bandwidth, lower costs, and reduced delay, or “latency”. Having access to multiple cables on different routes also provides redundancy. If a cable is severed—by fishing nets, sharks, or an earthquake, among other things—traffic can be rerouted to another line. Most important, however, owning cables gives companies greater say over how their data traffic is managed and how equipment is upgraded. “The motivation is not so much saving money. It’s more about control,” says Julian Rawle, a submarine cable-industry expert.

        自有海底光纖網絡有幾個好處,包括更多的帶寬,更低的成本,還能減少延遲。使用不同線路的多條電纜還能提供備用路徑:如果一條電纜因漁網、鯊魚、地震等原因斷裂,通信可切換到另一條電纜上。不過最重要的是,擁有自己的電纜后,公司在數據傳輸的管理和設備升級等方面就有了更大的話語權。“這么做的動機主要不是為了省錢,更多是為了控制。”海底電纜業專家朱利安·羅爾(Julian Rawle)表示。

         

        Some people worry that owning the pipes that carry their customers’ data will give big tech firms even more power than they already have, likening the situation to Amazon’s owning the roads on which its packages are delivered and the lorries that carry them. Others fret that conventional network operators may struggle to adapttheir business models, as companies such as Facebook are moving onto their turf(跑馬賽道). “Within the next 20 years,” predicts Mr Rawle, “the whole concept of the telecom carrier as the provider of the network is going to disappear.”

        有人擔心,擁有了傳輸用戶數據的線纜后,大科技公司的影響力將如虎添翼,這就好比配送亞馬遜包裹的卡車、供卡車行駛的道路也都歸亞馬遜所有。另一些人則擔憂,在被Facebook這類公司入侵地盤時,傳統的網絡運營商可能難以調整自己的商業模式。羅爾預計,“不出20年,電信運營商作為網絡供應商的整個概念將消失。”



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