On August 6, 2021, a ship sails along the coastline while laying a submarine optical fiber communication cable near the village of Teriberka in the Barents Sea, Russia. REUTERS/Stringer
Reuters Murmansk, Russia, August 6-Russia began laying its first submarine optical fiber communication cable across the Arctic on Friday as part of a state-run project to connect high-speed internet to remote hydrocarbon-rich Northern region. The leadership initiative is deadlocked.
Moscow’s goal is to improve sporadic communications and infrastructure in its Far North, where it has expanded its military presence, and is developing the North Sea route to make it a major shipping route.
The cable, which will be completed in 2026, will cross the long coast of northern Russia from the village of Teriberka on the Barents Sea to the Far Eastern port of Vladivostok, with a total length of 12,650 kilometers (7,860 miles).
It is called the "Polar Express" and will be operated by the state-owned company Morsviazsputnik to provide a stable Internet for Arctic port towns, Kamchatka Peninsula and Sakhalin Island.
The head of the cable manufacturing and laying company Alexei Strelchenko (Alexei Strelchenko) said that the project will cost 65 billion rubles (889 million US dollars) and will be fully funded by the state.
Strelchenko said the cable was manufactured in the Arctic city of Murmansk using Chinese optical fibers and Russian components. A ship left Murmansk on Thursday and began laying near Teriberka.
Morsviazsputnik CEO Andrey Kuropyatnikov said that the project will require additional connecting cables to connect to the global communication cable network that requires foreign investment.
"This (will require) a partnership in co-investment to expand the project to Europe and Asia. This is a separate commercial project," he told Reuters. He said that talks are being held with companies in Asia, Europe and the United States.
A separate private cable project led by Russian telecom operator Megafon and Finnish infrastructure operator Cinia ceased in May. The $1 billion "Arctic Connection" project, a cable project used to connect Helsinki and Tokyo in northern Russia, is still on hold.
A source familiar with the Polar Express project stated that Megafon's withdrawal was due to competition with the country and technical difficulties that made the project unprofitable.
Another source familiar with the Megafon project stated that the project could not be approved by the Russian government due to national security issues.
Megafon told Reuters that it had obtained all necessary national approvals, but in May it decided to review the "structure and economy" of its project, which would take time.
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