NORDUnet has signed a Letter of Intent with Far North Fiber, Inc, expressing interest in one of the 12 planned fiber pairs in the Far North Fiber (FNF) Submarine Cable System between Norway/Finland and Japan. This could potentially also include other landing points pending interest from Research & Education Network organizations.
Both Far North Fiber and NORDUnet gave no value for the investment. According to Reuters, it worths around 100 million euros for one fiber pair in the FNF submarine cable system which is expected to cost 1.1 billion euros. And NORDUnet may need to pay a further 100 million euros in maintenance costs required throughout its 30-year lifespan.
The 17,000km Far North Fiber submarine cable system will interconnect Scandinavia and Japan, through the Northern Arctic, including landings e.g., in U.S, Canada, and Ireland. The Scandinavian/Nordics landing stations will be in Northern Norway and Finland. The Far North Fiber cable system is scheduled to be ready for service by the end of 2026.
The Far North Fiber cable system is currently under development by an international joint development company Far North Fiber, Inc., a joint venture of Cinia Oy from Finland, Far North Digital from US and ARTERIA Networks Corporation from Japan.
NORDUnet is a collaboration between the National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) of the five Nordic countries, i.e., Denmark (DeiC), Finland (Funet), Iceland (RHnet), Norway (Uninett), and Sweden (SUNET). NORDUnet operates a world-class data network, based on dark fiber and spectrum sharing, together with support for e-infrastructures, including media services like videoconferencing and lecture capturing & playback. More than 400 research & education institutions in the Nordics, with over 1.2 million users, are connected via the Nordic NREN networks, enabling scientists, educators, and students to work and share knowledge globally.
The Far North Fiber cable system is expected to open a new, high secure and fast route connecting three continents in the global R&E community and enhance the collaboration landscape between R&E partners in The Nordics, Europe, North America and Japan. In addition, it will boost Nordic regional development and significantly enhance European digital sovereignty.
This fiber pair in the FNF cable system will be among the first intercontinental fiber pairs in history owned and managed by the research and education communities. The ownership will contribute to securing connectivity in an age where the ability to transmit large data sets and conduct distance learning and conferencing is absolutely imperative. On top of that, R&E users in all of Europe will experience further benefits in terms of lower cost, access to larger bandwidths, improved latencies and increased resilience.
Scheduled to be ready for service by the end of 2026, there is still uncertainty for the 1.1 billion euros Far North Fiber project.
There was another attempt to build a trans-Arctic subsea cable linking Europe and Asia through the Northern Sea Route (NSR), the Arctic Connect project initiated by Cinia, in a partnership with Russian operation MegaFon and others. The Arctic Connect project was suspended in May 2021, for further feasibility assessment. There was also the Arctic Fiber project planned to connect Japan and Europe through Canadian Arctic, back to early 2010s.