By Anne Kauranen
HELSINKI (Reuters) – A project to build the world’s first fiber optic cable across the Arctic has secured its first investment, the consortium behind the 1.1 billion euro ($1.15 billion) project said on Friday. .
The undersea cable, which the developers say will be the first to be laid on the Arctic seabed, will connect Europe and Japan via North America as part of the global internet infrastructure.
An earlier plan to run the cable along Russia’s Arctic coast, as part of a venture with Russia’s second-largest mobile operator, Megafon, was canceled last year.
This was due to Russia’s increased reluctance to allow the laying of the cable in its territorial area, said Finland’s Cinia, the company leading the Far North Fiber consortium.
Far North Fiber is a joint venture between Cinia, the American Far North Digital, and the Japanese Arteria Networks.
“We may have seen other signs of growing nationalism in Russia and that’s what we also experienced in the project,” Cinia chief executive Ari-Jussi Knaapila told Reuters.
The cable, which will connect the Nordic countries to Japan via Greenland, Canada and Alaska, will reduce data transmission delays between Frankfurt and Tokyo by around 30%, he said.
NORDUnet, a pan-Nordic research and education network operator, said it has signed a letter of intent with Far North Fiber to invest in one of the planned 12 fiber pairs that will be contained inside the cable.
Far North Fiber gave no value for the investment, but a source said a fiber pair was worth around 100 million euros, with an additional 100 million in maintenance costs needed over its lifetime. 30 years old.
Existing network cables between Europe and Asia mainly run through the Suez Canal, which is vulnerable due to damage from heavy shipping traffic, Knaapila said.
“We are all increasingly dependent on the web and its user-friendliness depends on the number of alternative routes that exist.”
Cinia, a network company majority-owned by the Finnish state, is involved because its mandate is to improve and diversify Finland’s connectivity, which now relies largely on cables connecting it to the rest of Europe.
($1 = 0.9572 euros)
(Reporting by Anne Kauranen; Editing by Gwladys Fouche and Alexander Smith)