It seems there are now two efforts to lay fiberoptic cable in the Arctic Ocean. Yesterday a Russian outfit named ZAO "Polarnet Project" invited tenders for the supply of ROTACS, or the Russian Trans Arctic Submarine Cable System. This system was also discussed in Monday's guest post by Egor Drobyshev. Like the Arctic Fibre plans, the Polarnet Project seeks to shorten the latency between Western Europe and East Asia by taking the same route that airplanes take - over the North Pole or nearly so. But this one is through Russian waters. Here's a map of Polarnet's route, cribbed from a PDF on their site:
It's fascinating that the Arctic is getting so much attention, but I'm curious what the cost of construction are going to look like for these projects. Are the economics driving things, or is this more of a national interests thing for Canada and Russia? Another thought is that these plans hug the coastlines but I believe the lowest latency route passes beneath the ice cap itself. Will the economics shift if the Arctic goes ice-free, as some project it will in a few decades?
I guess we will just have to wait and see.
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