Svalbard Subsea Cable Not Operative

Satellite antennas and internet in Svalbard are connected to mainland Norway through two subsea fiberoptic cables. (Photo: Arne O. Holm)

One out of two subsea fiberoptic connection cables between the Norwegian mainland and Svalbard has been non-operative since Friday.

One of the two connections for the Svalbard network is not operative, according to Space Norway, which owns and holds responsibility for the fiberoptic connection between the mainland and Svalbard. Communication to and from Svalbard nevertheless runs as usual.

The Svalbard fiber connection consists of two subsea connections between Longyearbyen and Harstad. The fiber connection is thus functioning even if out of two connections were to fail, however, then it will operate without reserve capacity.

“I have been informed that an error has occurred on a part of one of the two fiber cable connections between Svalbard and mainland Norway. The communication to and from Svalbard nevertheless runs as usual. The Svalbard fiber is still working, even though one connection has malfunctioned”, says Minister of Justice and Preparedness Emilie Enger Mehl (Center Party) in a government press release.

Happened Friday

Space Norway and its cooperation partners is currently working hard on localizing the error and finding out how fast it can be fixed.

“The Ministry of Justice and Preparedness monitors the situation and is continually being informed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries about the error localization work, as that ministry owns Space Norway. The ministry is also continually in touch with the Svalbard Governor”, Mehl says.

The subsea cable has been inoperative since last Friday.


Space Norway reports that the error is due to a fault on the power feed some 130-230 kilometers from Longyearbyen, in an area in which the cable descends abruptly into the Greeland Ocean, from some 300 meters’ depth to 2,700 meters’ depth.

It is not yet clear how the damage has been done; however, this is currently being investigated. In order to repair the damage, a larger ocean-going cable-laying vessel must be mobilized.

In addition to supplying internet to Longyearbyen, the two fiberoptic cables serve SvalSat, a ground station for satellite communication in Svalbard that has more than 100 satellite antennas on a nearby mountain plateau.

The Svalbard fiber cable is the world’s northernmost fiberoptic subsea cable.

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This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.