Decreased sea ice extent in the Arctic is opening up new possibilities in telecommunications. A new undersea Internet fibre-optic cable system will be laid across the Arctic seabed, creating the shortest link between eastern Asia and western Europe via Alaska and the Canadian Arctic.
The Quintillion Subsea Cable System is to be installed in three stages, and will allow certain coastal areas in the North American Arctic to have access to broadband Internet connection for the first time.
During the first stage of the project, French telecommunications company Alcatel will lay the first length of the cable across the north coast of Alaska. This first stage is expected to be completed by early 2017, and will provide broadband Internet connectivity to remote coastal villages along Alaska’s North Slope.
The second stage of the project will lay cable across the North Pacific to link Alaska to Japan. In the third stage, a cable connecting Alaska to the UK will be laid across the seabed of the the Canadian Arctic along the Northwest Passage, connecting to remote High Arctic Communities in Canada, before crossing the North Atlantic and connecting to the UK.
Once finished, the trans-Arctic cable route will allow Internet data to flow between Europe and Asia as fast as 30 terabytes per second.