Breaking the Ice

Hector Hernandez

By Hector Hernandez
July 22, 2019


The first Submarine cable system installed in the Arctic region, near the Arctic Circle, was implemented in 2009. The first Submarine cable system installed in the Arctic Circle was Ready for Service (RFS) in 2017. At the time, building in the Arctic Region was viewed with scepticism and the belief that there is not a business case that could support such an endeavour.

Times are changing. There are three new systems planned for RFS in the Arctic region some-time over the next few years (2022 to 2023). This activity in the region suggests there is a strong desire to build submarine cable systems in the Arctic and that there is a business case to support it. This article shares information around the cur- rent state of affairs, provides an outlook for growth in the Arctic Region and touches on business drivers that support the desire to build in this harsh environment.

Current State of Affairs

TELE Greenland is the first Commercial implementation of a submarine cable system near the Arctic Circle, the “Greenland Connect” system was RFS in 2009, then expanded the network north with “Greenland Connect North”, which was RFS in 2017. While this system is not technically in the Arctic Circle, it is in the Arctic region with similarly extreme cold climate conditions.

Quintillion installed the first submarine cable system entirely in the Arctic Circle. After years of research, planning and design, Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) installed the last segment of cable in late summer 2017 and the system went live that December, enabling 21st Century communications in the North American Arctic for the first time.

Quintillions’ submarine cable system is 2,253 km delivering gigabit and higher bandwidth services to the communities of Nome, Point Hope, Wainwright, Kotzebue and Utqiagvik, Alaska. In addition, Quintillion’s new terrestrial fiber has been installed between Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay. That connects these northern Alaska communities to the Pacific Northwest, as well as serves the Prudhoe Bay oil fields. This terrestrial system was launched and has been providing commercial service since spring of 2017.

The current system represents phase 1 of Quintillion’s plans, the introduction of high-speed internet to Quintillion’s markets enabling improved health and education services, helping to spur economic development, empowering local businesses and allowing consumers access to video and other high-speed applications.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 107 of the SubTel Forum magazine here on page 22.