First Trans-Atlantic Fiber-Optic
Cable Connects Ireland and US

Enda Kenny observes the cable landing in Sligo last year. (Photo: Naoise Culhane)

By R. Bryan Willits, Editorial Assistant
February / March 2016

Ireland and the U.S. are now connected through a brand new $300 million transatlantic fiber-optic cable that went live on January 31. Aqua Comms, the Irish based company behind the America Europe Connect (AEConnect) system, put the final splice in the cable in November of last year, making AEConnect the first and only dedicated modern subsea fiber-optic cable system running directly from Ireland to the U.S.

The connection runs 3440 miles from Shirley, Long Island, New York, to a station in Killala, Co. Mayo, where it then connects directly to Dublin and then on to London and the rest of Europe. The system has the latest 130Gbps x 100Gbps fiber pair and 52Tbps of capacity, meaning AEConnect can cover all of the European and American data traffic, can handle one third of all telephone calls made worldwide, and should be able to double its capacity within a few years.

Though AEConnect is the first and only dedicated modern subsea fiber-optic cable system to run directly from the U.S. to Ireland, it is not the only notable state-of-the-art transatlantic wire connection in Ireland’s history. The first commercially viable transatlantic cable was established in 1866 and ran from Valencia Island, just off the Co. Kerry coast, to a station in Newfoundland, Canada.

It was also from Valencia that a leading member of Clan na Gael, (most likely John Devoy) received a cyphered message 50 years later reading “Tom [Clark] Successfully Operated On Today,” signaling the outbreak of the 1916 Easter Rising. Now, 100 years after that, AEConnect allows Ireland and her “exiled children in America” to be even more connected than ever before. ♦

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