Vodafone apprentices present PK Porthcurno at the London EMEA 2024 submarine networks event.

Vodafone apprentices present PK Porthcurno at the London EMEA 2024 submarine networks event.

May 2024 saw a collaboration between Vodafone and PK Porthcurno at the EMEA Submarine Networks event in London, the region’s leading annual subsea connectivity event bringing together 1000 senior leaders from the global subsea market for two days of learning, collaboration, and networking.

Four Bude-based Vodafone apprentices and our Learning Facilitator, Paul Tyreman, worked together to design and present a stand for the event, resulting in a mini-PK Porthcurno telling the story of subsea global communications, complete with working demonstrations of Victorian-era morse telegraphy right up to working modern-day digital laser fibre optics. Siobhan from Vodafone also created a rather “knarly” puzzle using the 1837 Cooke and Wheatstone Telegraph, and “ticker tape” telegraphy code to baffle and challenge visitors to the stand.

Aside from promoting PK Porthcurno, this event provided an excellent opportunity for Siobhan, James, Tony, and Callum from Vodafone to learn about the birth of global telecommunications and develop their presentation and communications skills, which they professionally executed with ease. Siobhan and Callum were even interviewed at a “wash-up” event, where they spoke about their work with PK Porthcurno.

Always on the lookout for related items for our museum collection, we were delighted to receive a recovered section of subsea cable kindly donated by ESCA (European Submarine Cable Association). Rick Perry, Head of Vodafone Subsea, also donated the two “golden buoys” from the recent 2Africa cable landed at Widemouth Bay near Bude. BT has also offered redundant items from one of their subsea landing stations.

It was a very successful event and we thoroughly enjoyed sharing the history of global communications with the attendees, as well as working alongside the Vodafone apprentices.

“We can’t present the science and technology story of Global Telecommunications without discussing the history – the two are inextricably linked – I believe we succeeded at EMEA 2024, in no small part to our Vodafone partners”.  PK Porthcurno Trustee

Hear from Vodafone Apprentice, Siobhan Toppin.

“Submarine Networks EMEA was hosted at the London Business Design Centre on the 29th and 30th May, an industry event for subsea cables. The event had over 1000 attendees, including cable owners, operators, suppliers, carriers, content providers, lawyers, repair vessel operators, and members of government authority boards.

Vodafone currently has four Submarine Networks Apprentices working towards a BEng in Electromechanical Engineering on a 5-year programme, whilst rotating through the Vodafone submarine engineering and commercial teams—a similar experience to the Cable & Wireless students who once attended the Porthcurno Engineering College.

Two members of the PK team worked with the four subsea apprentices to host a stand at the event. They developed a murder mystery logic puzzle for attendees to crack, with four encrypted clues demonstrating the evolution of telecommunications technology over time, including the Cooke and Wheatstone, Morse, punched telegraph tapes and binary.

The stand also featured a model made by the PK volunteers, demonstrating how signals from a phone connect to a radio access network, travel through fibre optic, and convert into an analogue output through a speaker. Additionally, the stand displayed a 1918 galvanometer connected to a morse key, allowing attendees to visualise how morse code was used to send messages.

The stand received lots of attention from the event attendees, including industry experts, academics researching telegraph history, and many former Cable & Wireless students who attended the college! Hearing their stories and fond memories of working in Porthcurno was fantastic.

The museum has also received several offers for donation, including telegraph and fibre optic samples and a recovered shunt fault from a Vodafone cable system. These donations will be integrated into the museum collection, outreach programmes, and exhibitions. Look out for any future work between PK and the subsea apprentices as their collaboration continues!”

Siobhan Toppin, Level 6 Submarine Networks Engineering

Check out our latest exhibition in partnership with Vodafone and the Mobile Phone Exhibition: GOING MOBILE

Vodafone apprentices present PK Porthcurno at the London EMEA 2024 submarine networks event.
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