FAR below the typhoon-tossed surface of the Pacific and the cold wastes of the Atlantic, lies the handiwork of an Essex company, defying the oceans to bring the modern world the instant communications we all take for granted.

Global Marine Systems operates the world’s largest fleet of cable-laying ships, including the largest cable-laying ship afloat, the Cable Innovator. Its products rest on the seabed in almost every corner of the planet, its vessels roam the seven seas.

And the internet age remains wholly dependent on these sub-sea threads. The vast bulk of intercontinental cyber traffic is carried by cables.

“It’s a misconception to think it’s all done by satellite,” says Gabriel Ruhan, GMS’s chief executive officer. “Press a button on your Blackberry or iPad, and if it’s an international link, it will be provided by cable.”

Perhaps even more surprising to a layman technophobe is the reason. Gabriel says: “Cable links are massively quicker.”

GMS, which is responsible for one third of all the world’s submarine cables, now stands poised on the edge of a new boom era. Cable space consumption is rising by around 30 per cent a year. Additional bandwidth capacity is required around the world.

“A new transatlantic cable is going to be required in 2014, for a start,” says Gabriel.

To cope with the expansion, GMS has leased 11 ships to add to the nine vessels it owns.

Behind this soaring demand, lies the explosion in hungry applications. “The trend is for video rather than just voice – the YouTubes and BBC iPlayers of this world,” says Gabriel.

Fibre optic cables have replaced the original copper ones, but the process of unravelling cables from a giant shipboard capstan remains essentially unchanged since the age of Brunel.

“But the supporting technology is progressing all the time,” says Gabriel. GMS’s unchallenged role as industry leader relies heavily on its capacity for innovation.

“The terrain on the seabed is exactly the same as on the exposed surface of the planet,” says Gabriel. “We’ve developed clever software that recognises the submarine terrain, and controls the speed of the ships accordingly.

“It ensures cables aren’t, for instance, suspended between peaks. It can also guide us on the risk from earthquakes.”

GMS’s corporate history stretches back through BT Marine and Cable and Wireless Marine, to the original Anglo-French Telegraph Company of 1850. It is obviously a business with brine in its DNA.

Yet its headquarters building, housing 120 employees, is situated in landlocked Chelmsford.

“Basically, when the last amalgamation took place in 1994, the new boss lived here in Essex,” says Gabriel.

“He moved the operation from Portsmouth to be nearer his home.”

The company does continue to maintain a marine base in Portland, Dorset.

Not that GMS employees need a sea view out of their window. They are the first to make good use of the communications technology they enable. Gabriel says: “We can watch our ships at work anywhere in the world, any time. We just have to look at our Blackberries.”