Russia’s Polar Express Project Now Underway?

August 10th, 2021 by · Leave a Comment

A Reuters report a few days ago brought up a name I hadn’t heard in a while from the Arctic.  Russia has supposedly begun laying the Polar Express cable system along its northern coast, perhaps stepping into the gap left by delays at the Arctic Connect project.

The Polar Express cable starts in Teriberka (near Murmansk on the Barents Sea), and hops along the Siberian coastline all the way around to Vladivostok in the Russian Far East.  It will consist of some six distinct cable systems spanning 12,650km, with six fiber pairs. The total initial theoretical capacity is described as 52-104Tbps. 

The cable manufacture took place in Murmansk using Chinese fiber and Russian components.   According to the report, a cable ship left Murmansk to begin laying the cable itself at the Teriberka end.  But the projected completion date of 2026 suggests that there are a lot of steps left to this process before it becomes reality.  

It will cost some $889M, which will come out of Russia’s state coffers.  And even when complete, additional investments will be needed to connect each end to other infrastructure, as Murmansk and Vladivostok aren’t exactly major bandwidth destinations just yet.  But if all this happens, there will be a new way to send data from the Far East to Europe. 

And I say ‘if’ because we have seen many Arctic projects launch with great fanfare only to evaporate when it came time to spend the actual money.  But I hope it does proceed, and we get to hear about the travails of that cable laying ship as it dodges those icebergs and such over the next few years.

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Categories: Undersea cables

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