Finnish network equipment supplier Cinia and U.S. telecom company Far North Digital announced in a press release a joint effort to build a fiber-optic cable system connecting Europe and Asia through the Arctic. This came as little surprise as a ‘rival project’ has already started construction with their “Polar Express” through the Russian Arctic. Alcatel Submarine Networks will lead the project design and installation.
Cinia and Far North Digital will focus on telecom infrastructure development and have signed a memorandum of understanding to build a submarine fibre optic cable.
“Arctic Connect,” as it is called, will run from Norway to Japan via the Northwest Passage. Several connection possibilities are planned in Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic and Alaska. For example, the indigenous population in Greenland, Canada and Alaska will be connected to high-speed Internet. From the coast of northern Norway, the cable will continue overland to Finland.
The 14,000-kilometer cable system significantly reduces the optical distance between Asia and Europe and will minimize delays in data traffic. The cable should be ready for use by the end of 2025. The cost estimate for the project is about 1 billion euros ($1.15 billion).
In addition, True North Global Networks LP, a Canadian subsidiary of Far North Digital, is committed to working with Indigenous organizations and local governments to develop a number of subsidiaries in Arctic Canada. By leveraging community-based, locally owned digital networks, a direct connection to global Internet backbone services will be established for high-speed broadband communications in this underserved region.
“This cable system is more than a way to accelerate and improve telecommunications between nations. It is a bridge across the digital divide, providing communities in the North with greater opportunities for sustainable self-determination through economic development, improved educational options and enhanced access to healthcare. It will also serve as a platform that provides science with an unprecedented opportunity to explore climate change,” said Guy Houser, Chief Technical Officer of Far North Digital.
In Asia, Japan is the most important gateway for cable systems.
“The Arctic connection between Japan and Northern Europe has long been a shared passion of Japan and Cinia, as the diversity of international connections is of critical importance to Japan. Prime Minister Kishida has announced a new digital vision, including a plan to build new landing points in the island nation.
My long-term plan is for Hokkaido to become a natural gateway to the north and east, and for this to become a reality. I am very pleased to be part of the Far North Fiber Initiative,” says Jun Murai, professor at Keio University and special advisor to the Japanese cabinet.
Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal