New submarine cable to link Japan and Europe via the famous Northwest Passage • The Register

In the 15th century, European traders hoping to reach Asia had problems: a round trip by land or sea took years and involved many deadly dangers. The sailors of the time therefore imagined traveling the “Northwest Passage”, a route across the Atlantic, then over North America, before sliding south to Japan.

Unfortunately, ice is rarely absent at the far northern latitudes that the passage occupies. Nor is there a straightforward route through the glacier-carved archipelago atop Canada. Navigating the passage therefore proved impossible for four hundred years, unsuccessful attempts like the Franklin expedition became a maritime tradition.*, and the route turned out to be so finnicky that it is not commercially viable.

In the 21st century, Europeans have a similar problem: the network latency between Northern Europe and Asia is uncomfortably long.

For example, the Finnish company Cinia and the American telecommunications infrastructure company Far North Digital have agreed to build an undersea cable called Far North Fiber that crosses the passage.

One end of the cable will be in Japan and touch Alaska and the Canadian Arctic before terminating in Norway, Finland and Ireland. Here is the suggested route.

Panarctic fiber optic cable routing

Click to enlarge

The FLAG and SEA-ME-WE3 cables already link Europe to Asia but pass through the Suez Canal and delicate places where a determined saboteur would have no trouble finding a cable. Many other routes also exist, but require interconnection with other cables or routes over land networks to cross North America. These connections add latency and complexity.

The Fiber du Grand Nord will therefore offer both a shorter route and an alternative physical route.

The splendid submarinecablemap.com resource shows us that although cables already work in arctic climates, some farther north than this one should pass, they are scarce. This cable will therefore be a real feat of engineering if the memorandum of understanding signed by Cinia and Far North Digital is implemented.

The two companies’ plan foresees that the 14,000 km cable will carry traffic from 2025. If this date is reached, it will overtake the Russian Polar Express cable by one year in the market. Polar Express also uses northern waters to travel from Asia to Europe, over Siberia, but will only land in Russia.

Commercial shipping has used the Polar Express route for decades, and in recent times sea ice has become scarce and traffic has increased. The register It is imagined that Cinia and Far North Digital are hoping that similar conditions will facilitate their construction efforts. ®

*Starting Note: If you still need to find a Christmas press for someone who appreciates tales from the Northwest Passage, and wonderful writing, your correspondent can highly recommend Salomon Gursky was there by Mordecai Richler.

Harry D. Gonzalez