Regional Snapshot

  • Current Systems: 1
  • Capacity: 30 Tbps
  • Planned Systems: 4
  • Planned Capacity: 120 Tbps
Polar Systems

Polar Systems

8.7.1 Current Systems

Table 15: Polar 2017-Present
RFS YearSystemCapacity (Tbps)Length (kms)
2017Quintillion Subsea301200

The first true Polar submarine fiber system in industry history was installed in 2017. Previous systems, such as Svalbard, had only ever brushed the Arctic region. At 1,200 kilometers over 6 landing points, Quintillion Subsea Phase 1 marked the first successful and fully Arctic submarine fiber system in the world.

Interest in Polar projects has been at an all-time high the past few years, as cable developers are looking to take advantage of the dramatically shorter routes that can be achieved through the Arctic Circle. The Quintillion Subsea system has proven that a fully Polar system can be done for future systems that look to tackle this particularly difficult region.

Polar systems have particular challenges to overcome during their development cycle, and only have small windows of time throughout the year during which work can be accomplished. This both extends the development timeline and increases the cost.

8.7.2 Future Systems

Table 16: Polar Planned Systems
RFS YearSystemCapacity (Tbps)Length (kms)
2021Arctic Connect3010500
2021Katittuq Nunavut2400

These systems are focused on routes in the far north of Canada, linking up local communities or bridging the gap between Europe and Asia. Arctic Connect is an attempt to link Europe to Japan by going over top of Russia.

One of the main goals for Polar systems connecting Europe to Asia is to dramatically reduce existing latency. Currently, data must either go through the United States, or through the Suez Canal and Indian Ocean. This has required systems totaling at least 20,000 kilometers in the past. However, future Europe to Asia Arctic routes are planned for about 10,000 kilometers — potentially cutting latency in half. Additionally, systems exploring Arctic routes avoid the troubled Middle East region and circumvent potential privacy concerns in the United States.