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In what is said to be a major step forward for the project, Far North Fiber, which aims to build the first pan-Arctic submarine cable system connecting Europe and Asia via North America, has begun a study of the approximate 15,000 km route the system will have to take.
The organisation was established in 2022 to develop a submarine fibre optic system connecting Asia and Europe through the Arctic, the first of its kind.
The partners of Far North Fiber comprise Finland’s Cinia, Alaska’s Far North Digital and Japan’s ARTERIA Networks. It will aim to promote a submarine cable system that realises a faster and more secure route directly connecting Japan, North America, and Ireland and Scandinavia. The project has received funding from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF Digital).
The planned cable system will run from Japan, via the Northwest Passage, to Europe, with a landing in Alaska. European landings are planned in Norway, adjacent to Finland, and Ireland. There are also several branching units designed along the route to accommodate future branch connections in the Pacific, Canadian Arctic and Atlantic.
The cable route study (CRS) of the project will be carried out in cooperation with Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN), fully owned by Nokia, as leading technology partner and contractor for this project. ASN boasts more than 165 years of experience in developing, designing and manufacturing submarine cable systems, with more than 700,000 km of optical submarine systems deployed worldwide. It claims to be the most experienced supplier of Arctic submarine cable installations.
ASN will provide all elements of turnkey global undersea transmission systems, along with marine and maintenance operations performed by its wholly owned fleet of cable ships.
ASN’s expertise in the Arctic region is said to be a profound asset in the realisation of this project. The cable route study will be completed in 2023, and the results of the CRS will support the upcoming marine survey, also scheduled to begin during 2023.
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The CRS, along with the marine survey, is regarded as a critical component of the project, which is estimated to be operational by the end of 2026. Significantly, the Far North Fiber system runs entirely through international waters and the maritime boundaries of Japan, the US, Canada and EU nations.
The results will be used to define the best route for the Arctic aspects of the Far North Fiber cable system, and will receive focused attention in terms of safety, reliability, cultural and environmental factors, and economics, considering the unique trans-Arctic route. Key elements will include ice analysis.
“We are very pleased to see the constantly growing interest in the FNF project from our key stakeholders, such as customers and investors as well as states and communities along the route,” said Cinia CEO Ari-Jussi Knaapila. “The cable route study is a concrete and exciting step forward, and it is delightful to see how these steps ahead in the project interest the market.”
ASN chief sales and marketing officer Paul Gabla added: “ASN is delighted to be a key stakeholder in the Far North Fiber Cable System project. Our expertise in the Arctic region will be highly valuable for the success of this ambitious project, which will connect Europe and Asia via North America while promoting economic growth in the region.”