The route of the planned trans-Arctic data cable, depicted in orange.The cable linking Asia and Europe would transform Finland into an important data hub.

FINLAND has voiced its support for a Russian plan to build a 14,900 kilometres long undersea data cable along the Northern Sea Route, linking Asia and Europe. As conceived by Finland, the trans-Arctic cable would join the Finnish fibre optic cable network through Murmansk and continue to Central Europe along the bed of the Baltic Sea.

“This is a big thing for us,” comments Juha Parantainen, a ministerial adviser at the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

“We must come up with a way to carry it out.”

The trans-Arctic cable would transform Finland into an extremely attractive location for data centre operators and cloud service providers. In addition, it would reduce the distance data has to travel between Asia and Europe by thousands of kilometres and thereby slash the delays in data transmission.

Today, data between the two continents is transferred via a cable meandering through politically and geologically unstable regions in the south.

- The Government decided on Wednesday to take part in project to build a submarine optic cable across the Baltic Sea.

- Russia's Polarnet has laid out plans to build a trans-Arctic data cable along the Northern Sea Route, linking Asia and Europe.

- If built, the undersea cables would turn Finland into a hub of global data flows.

Although the current delays in data communications are measured in milliseconds, any advances in the speed of communications would be significant for trading and data centres.

According to Parantainen, the project was last discussed by Finnish and Russian ministers of communications in the spring. No resolution was reached at the time, because Finland had yet to decide on building a data cable under the Baltic Sea, which alone is projected to provide a six-fold increase in the country's international data transmission capacity.

In addition, Helsingin Sanomat believes, there is a private project to build another data cable across the Baltic Sea. If carried out, it would translate to a 60-fold increase in Finland's capacity.

The plans to roll out the trans-Arctic cable have been devised by the Russian company Polarnet. The project is estimated to cost 800 million euros, making it too substantial an investment for the Finnish Government.

“We've had a direct line of communication with Polarnet. We have talked with them,” Parantainen says. “The funding situation would change completely, if the Russian state, for example, decided to take part.”

Jarmo Huhtanen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© Helsingin Sanomat
Illustration: Petri Salmén / HS (Source: Polarnet)