Cable to the Continent doesn't chronicle the laying of the groundbreaking TAT-1, instead, it's a follow-up — to the travails of laying the next transatlantic cable, TAT-2.
TAT-2 was a joint project of four countries — France, Germany, the U.S., and Canada, and ran from Clarenville in Newfoundland to Penmarc'h on the coast of France. Part of TAT-2's trunk connection was via TD-2 wireless microwave transmission, from hilltop to hilltop across New England and up through Canada. In France and Germany, it was managed by government ministries; in the U.S. and Canada, by AT&T and the Canadian AT&T subsidiary, ETT.
The film visits manufacturing plants, gives a mini-travelogue of the cable-landing areas, and, about 10:00 into the film, outlines one of the more harrowing stories in the history of cable-laying, specifically about the Cable Ship Ocean Layer.
TAT-2 operated from 1959 to 1982, when it was superseded by fiber optic cable technology. Initially, it could only carry 36 circuits — according to the film — but was quickly upgraded to 48.
Today, the Penmarc'h landing station in France is still a very important part of the global broadband network. In 2011, a new cable was laid between France and the west coast of Africa, and, when it goes online in 2012, will be the first fiber optic broadband cable to serve the countries of Gambia, Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Liberia, Mauritania, and Sierra Leone, among others.
Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ