Russia launches $ 889 million Polar Express Arctic cable
1h | Nathalie Bannerman
Russia has reportedly started laying its Polar Express submarine cable valued at 65 billion rubles ($ 889 million).
According to Reuters, the new system connecting Europe and Asia across Russia’s arctic zone is a state-run project to provide high-speed internet access to its “remote, hydrocarbon-rich north.”
The project is developed by the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation; the Federal Agency for Maritime and River Transport (Rosmorrechflot); and Federal State Unitary Enterprise (FSUE) also known as Rosmorport. The cable will be operated by the state-owned Morsviazsputnik.
Due to be commissioned in 2026, the 12,650 km system will include six pairs of optical fibers with a capacity of approximately 52 to 104 Tbps and will connect to cable landing stations along the north coast. of Russia between the village of Teriberka in the Kolsky district of Murmansk on the Barents Sea. , to the eastern port city of Vladivostok.
Speaking to Reuters, Alexei Strelchenko, CEO of Advanced Technologies Management, the cable manufacturing and laying company, confirmed that the cable will cost 65 billion rubles ($ 889 million) and will be exclusively state funded .
In addition, cable manufacturing took place in Murmansk using Chinese fiber optics and Russian components, Strelchenko added, and a ship left Murmansk on Thursday, August 5, 2021, to begin installation near Teriberka.
Andrey Kuropyatnikov, CEO of Morsviazsputnik, said the system will require additional cable interconnects in order to connect to existing cable systems for later connection, which will require foreign investment for which conversations are already underway.
“This (will involve) a partnership in terms of co-investment to expand the project to Europe and Asia. This is a separate business project,” he told Reuters.
The news follows reports of blocked plans for the previously announced Arctic Connect submarine cable.
In June, it was confirmed that the project developed by Russian telecommunications operator Megafon and Finnish infrastructure operator Cinia is now under “review” without officially saying whether it will continue in the future.
Speaking to Russian news agency Interfax, sources from MegaFon said: “We have decided to reconsider the structure and economics of the Arctic Connect project and we need time for such a reorganization…”
Many have speculated that the fallout is due to failed negotiations with the project’s Japanese partner, Sojitz Corporation, which failed to provide co-financing under the cooperation agreement.
A source close to the Polar Express System told Reuters that Megafon had resigned due to competition with the state-run project as well as technical difficulties affecting the commercial viability of the project.
Another source told Reuter’s that Megafon was unable to secure Russian state approval for the Arctic Conect project, due to national security concerns, a claim MegaFon refutes by saying it has all the necessary approvals required and take the time to review “structure and economy”. of the project.