Another Arctic Subsea Cable Project? Hmmm…

June 19th, 2018 by · Leave a Comment

According to a fascinating report over on Capacity this morning, the melting ice up north has brought with it a new iteration of Arctic cable dreams. A new cable project is close to lining up the backing necessary to connect East Asia and Europe via a northern route.

But beyond that, details are still vague yet. And by details I mean minor questions like ‘who’, ‘where’, and ‘how’. Finland’s Cinia is involved, as is the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The latency between Frankfurt and Tokyo would be something around 170ms, and the cost to build the system could be up to €700M.

The cable is envisioned as commercial, but with backing from countries that may or may not include Russia, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Japan, and China. Notably not on that list are Canada and the US, which suggests to me that this is a separate project on a different route than the Quintillion/Arctic Fibre project. In fact, given the Finnish connection, all this sounds more like a reboot of the once-proposed, Russian-backed Polarnet trans-arctic cable system that would pass through to the north of Siberia rather than along the northern Canadian shoreline.

Conceivably a cable could come ashore along the Russian Nordic coast and make a short terrestrial hop over to St. Petersburg and Helsinki, where it could connect to Cina’s C-Lion1 cable over to Frankfurt, which would explain Cinia’s involvement.  Lots of moving parts though at this point.

But the idea could make for some interesting political implications, hooking up northern Europe with Asia with Russian icebreakers helping a bit and skirting US influence entirely.  Given all that is going on in the world of trade politics, I suspect the timing is not coincidental.

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Categories: Undersea cables

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