Russia to start laying underwater fiber-optic cable line across Arctic this summer
© RIA Novosti. Vladimir Trefilov

Russia to start laying underwater fiber-optic cable line across Arctic this summer

There are plans to start laying a deep-water trans-Arctic fiber-optic cable line between Murmansk and Vladivostok via the Northern Sea Route in late May or early June.

“This is a key project for computerization of the Northern Sea Route (NSR) and the Arctic region. We are now discussing the possibility of launching the Greater Northern Sea Route that may link St. Petersburg with Vladivostok,” said Russian Deputy Minister of Transport Alexander Poshivai.

According to Poshivai, the 12,650 km Polar Express communications line operating at 100 Tb/s will be laid via the shortest route between Europe and Asia. The project is scheduled for completion in 2026.

“This communications line will provide the Arctic port infrastructure with reliable high-speed communications and data exchange channels via the NSR and in the Far Eastern Federal District. It will therefore facilitate the digital transformation of water transport,” Poshivai pointed out.

Nine ships will be laying the fiber-optic cable line, capable of withstanding temperatures of −50ºC to +50 ºC, at the depth of 1.5 meters. The line will have a total of 150 optical relay systems.

Alexander Smirnov, CEO of Rosmorport, a Russian state port operator, noted that 18 Arctic ports had handled 996 million tons of freight last year; an additional 223 million tons were delivered via 22 Far Eastern ports. Up until 2030, freight deliveries via Arctic ports are expected to expand by 44 million tons every year and by over 100 million tons via Far Eastern ports. “We need a permanent and reliable communications channel to operate these facilities,” he said adding that satellite communications networks cannot guarantee this.

Andrei Kuropyatnikov, General Director of Morsvyazsputnik, a satellite communications company supervised by the Federal Agency for Sea and Inland Water Transport, noted that it was possible to get some foreign partners on board to work on the communications linking Teriberka with Europe and Vladivostok with Asia. The Polar Express project had secured the required funding, he added.