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Milestone-Proposal:Trans-Atlantic Telephone Fiber-optic Submarine Cable (TAT-8) - 1988

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Docket #:2014-03

This proposal has been submitted for review.

Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes

Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s fields of interest? (e.g. “the theory and practice of electrical, electronics, communications and computer engineering, as well as computer science, the allied branches of engineering and the related arts and sciences” – from the IEEE Constitution) Yes

Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes

Was it of at least regional importance? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes

Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes

Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes

Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an Electrical Engineering Milestone? Yes

Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:


Title of the proposed milestone:

Trans-Atlantic Telephone Fiber-optic Submarine Cable (TAT-8), 1988

Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:

TAT-8, the first fiber-optic cable to cross an ocean, entered service on 14 December 1988, and covered a seabed distance of 5846 Km between USA, UK and France. AT&T Bell Laboratories developed the foundational technologies: a 1.3 micron fiber, cable and splicing ten times stronger than for dry land application, laser, detector, and 280 Mbps repeaters for 40,000 telephone calls capacity; and led the integration at Freehold, NJ.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE NJ Coast Section

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Unit: IEEE NJ Coast Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Unit: IEEE NJ Coast Section
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE NJ Coast Section
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public

Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.

Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

AT&T Labs, 200 S Laurel Ave., Middletown, NJ 07748

Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.

Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need.

This is the main AT&T Labs Building in the vicinity of the cable landing site in New Jersey. There is a mounted bust of Alexander Graham Bell in the vicinity of where the plaque will be installed.

Are the original buildings extant?

YES, this building is operational and used as labs facility housing nearly 5000 employees.

Details of the plaque mounting:

Ground Floor Entrance Hall Lobby

How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?

The site is within the security perimeter of AT&T.

Who is the present owner of the site(s)?


A letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property:

File:AT and T site owner permission TAT8.pdf

A letter or email from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application:

What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?

See URL - TAT-8 was the first transatlantic cable to use optical fibers, a revolution in telecommunications. It had a capacity equivalent to 40,000 telephone circuits which was ten times the capacity of the last copper cable. Several new technologies had to be developed which were beyond those for land applications: (a) strong enough fiber strand and undersea cable that required ten times the strength available with typical fibers of that time; (b) strong splicing to withstand the rigors of the ocean as well as the laying of cable or pull up and repair of the cable at the fault location; (c) 1.3 micron wavelength single mode fiber and matching lasers and detector technology; (d) silicon for repeaters running at 280 Mbps and with very low failure rates. These resulted in far fewer repeaters and thinner cable than the copper submarine cable.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

See URL - The regulatory agency, Federal Communications Commission, was promoting satellite technologies for across the ocean applications and would not let Bell System to put in new cables. The new fiber-optic submarine systems had to be developed rapidly, and implemented in a span of seven years.

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

This was the first submarine fiber-optic cable system and several new technologies were developed rapidly for this purpose. The lessons learned were incorporated in later systems such as submarine cable systems across the pacific and around the world. Later terabit fiber-optic submarine systems that make the internet of today possible build on this strong foundation.

References to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or citations to pages in scholarly books. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article.

[1] An easy to read article is available on Wikipedia, [2] Jack Sipress, an oral history conducted in 1999 by David Hochfelder, IEEE History Center, New Brunswick, NJ, USA, [3] First laser phone call zips across the Atlantic! Isaac Asimov dedicates TAT-8 Also appears in Telecom Digest V8 issue 202 12/16/88. [4] Milestones in AT&T History, [5] The Voyage That Changed The World, International Cable Protection Committee, Dec. 1, 2008,

Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.