In 1997, a pair of 10,000-kilometer (6,200 miles) submarine communications cables were laid linking the United States and Europe, marking a significant milestone in the development of the Internet. The Gemini cable was the first transatlantic cable to use optical fibre technology and could carry 1.5 gigabits per second of data. It helped to revolutionise how data was transmitted between the United States and Europe and played an important role in the growth of e-commerce and other online businesses.
Built by a consortium of telecommunication companies, including AT&T, MCI, and British Telecom, the Gemini cable was engineered to withstand the harsh conditions of the North Atlantic Ocean. The Gemini cable was in two sections, one from Porthcurno to New York City, and the other from Porthcurno to London.
The Gemini was operational for 12 years and carried more than 100 terabits of data per day making it possible for people worldwide to communicate, share information, and play a role in the global economy. It helped to make the world a smaller place and easier for people to connect in ways that were never possible before.
The Gemini cable was named after the Gemini constellation, and is also Latin for ‘twins’, so referring to the two cables. It was laid by a fleet of cable ships owned by Cable and Wireless, including the CS Explorer, the CS Pathfinder, and the CS Retriever. The cable was tested by sending a signal from Porthcurno to New York City and back again, which took less than one second. Gemini was officially opened by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, and the President of the United States, Bill Clinton.
Since its decommissioning in 2009, several other submarine communication cables have been laid in Porthcurno, including the Atlantic Crossing 1 (AC-1) and the Europe India Gateway (EIG). These newer cables have higher capacity and faster speeds than the Gemini cable, allowing for even greater volumes of data to be transmitted across the Atlantic.
The Gemini cable was a testament to the power of technology to change the world, playing a critical role in the development of the Internet and the global economy and a proud chapter within the rich communication history of Porthcurno, and a reminder of the importance of international cooperation.
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