“Arctic Connect” delayed | Polarjournal
The “Arctic Connect” fibre-optic link will connect Europe with the Far East. (Photo: Arctic Connect)

Russian news agencies reported that the project to build an undersea fiber-optic communications pipeline is to be revamped. “Arctic Connect”, with a capacity of 200 Tbit/s, envisages the construction of an undersea fiber optic link from Europe to Asia, with a length of 10,000 km along the Arctic coast of Russia. The project is expected to cost up to 1.2 billion Euros.

In the summer of 2020, a Russian survey vessel spent three months in the waters of the Northeast Passage mapping possible routes for laying the cable. The plan was to continue surveying and mapping in the summer of 2021, and then begin laying the cables. According to the operators’ plans, the cable link could have been operational from 2023. At the moment this is not going to happen, “Megafon” and its Finnish partner “Cinia” want to rework the whole project.

According to the plan of “Megafon” and “Cinia”, the laying of fiber optic cables should have started soon and should be operational in 2023. (Photo: Arctic Connect)

“We have decided to reconsider the structure and profitability of the Arctic Connect project and still need some time for such reorganization,” Megafon told TASS news agency. “Since 2019, we have carried out large works both at sea and on land and all these studies will be used in the future if we decided to proceed with the project,” the company informs.

The newspaper ‘Vedomosti’ claimed that the suspension of construction is connected with the delay of negotiations on the implementation of the project by the Japanese side. “The project involves the Japanese trading and investment company “Sojitz Corporation” and its partners, with which a cooperation agreement was signed last year. However, its structures are dragging out negotiations on co-financing the project and providing services under various pretexts, allegedly to connect with a new network of customers in Japan. Many of these statements seem far-fetched,” said a Megafon spokesman.

The laying vessel of “Arctic Connect” will probably wait a little longer before it is used for cable laying. (Photo: Arctic Connect)

“Polar Express, another project to lay a fiber optic link, is not affected by this. “Polar Express” will connect Teriberka, located north of Murmansk and Vladivostok on Russia’s Pacific coast. The project is supported by Russian federal authorities and connects remote locations along the Northeast Passage. “Deep-sea cable laying will start in early June this year,” Deputy Transport Minister Aleksandr Poshivay said in early 2021.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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