After the previous collaboration stranded, resources are now put into a new project that is to lay a subsea fiber cable between North America, Asia, Northern Norway and Finland, this time through the Northwest Passage.
Finnish network supplier Cinia and the North American telecom company Far North Digital has signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build a subsea fiberoptic cable for internet and data transport in the Arctic.
The 14,000-kilometers long cable is to reduce the optic distance between Asia and Europe and minimize delays in data traffic. The plan is for the cable to be ready for use by the end of 2025.
The scheduled cable will run from Japan through the Northwest Passage to Europe, with side-cables touching land in Finland, Ireland and Troms County, Norway.
Finnish Cinia’s initiative for an Arctic subsea fiber cable is not new. In March this year, the company announced cooperation with the North Norwegian company Bredbåndsfylket AS and the Russian company Megafon.
The project was called ‘Arctic Connect’ and the cable was to be laid via Kirkenes, Norway and the Northeast Passage along the Russian Arctic.
In May, the companies announced that the project was shelved due to delays in negotiations about the conducting of the project from the Japanese side. Now, the Finnish company seems to have continued working on the project, this time with new partners and without Russian participation.
The plan about laying down the cable in the Northeast Passage have also been abandoned.
Bredbåndsfylket AS’ Manager Dag-Kjetil Hansen says to High North News that the plans about a subsea cable through the Northwest Passage have existed for years.
“There are several opportunities for connecting along the Northwest Passage”, he says and points out that Far North Digital plans to supply internet connectivity for the indigenous population in Greenland, Canada and Alaska.
“There is a great need”, Hansen says.
In a press release, CEO Ari-Jussi Knaapila at Cinia says that there is increased demand for new data transport routes with secure and fast international connection.
“Far North Fiber, spanning across three of the world’s largest internet-adopting continents, will be a truly global initiative”, Knaapila says.
This is a bridge across the digital divide
True North Global Networks LP, which in Canada is affiliated with Far North Digital, is committed to cooperating with indigenous peoples’ organizations as well as local authorities to develop a series of landings in the Arctic parts of Canada.
Through using locally owned community-based digital networks, a direct connection to the global internet is to establish new services for high-speed broadband communication across the region, which currently has limited internet opportunities.
Technical Director Guy Houser of Far North Digital says the new cable will increase speed and improve security for telecommunications between countries in the Arctic.
“This is a bridge across the digital divide and provides northern communities with better opportunities for sustainable autonomy through economic development, improved education opportunities and improved access to health services and telemedicine”, Houser says.
He continues, saying that the cable will be a new platform providing science with the opportunity to conduct research on global climate change. Japan is the main hub for the new cable.
Interesting for Japan
Professor at Keio University and Special Advisor to the Japanese Cabinet Jun Murai says in the press release that the Arctic connection between Japan and North Europe has long been of interest to Japan and the company Cinia, as diversity of international connections is crucial for Japan.
“The Japanese Prime Minister Kishida has presented a plan to build new landing points around the various islands where the cable will run. My long-term plan about Hokkaido being a natural gateway to the North and East is beginning to come true”, Murai says.
Alcatel Submarine Networks is to provide project design and installation. The costs related to production, laying down the cable, and landings, is nearly USD 1 billion. EPC partner for the project is Alcatel Submarine Networks.
In August, Reuters news agency reported that Russia is starting the work on laying its first subsea fiberoptic communications cable through the Northeast Passage as a part of a state-run project to bring highspeed internet to the Russian Arctic, after the Arctic Connect project came to a halt.
The cable connection, which is to be ready by 2026, will span across 12,650 kilometers along the northern coast of Russia, from the Teriberka village by the Barents Sea to the eastern port of Vladivostok.
This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.