Getting broadband in the Arctic

May 30, 2013

Is it really possible to get broadband coverage in the Arctic? "Yes, indeed!", say Telenor, the Norwegian Space Centre and the SINTEF company MARINTEK, who are currently looking into how they can make it happen.

A meeting was held recently, attended by representatives from these companies' R&D centres and a number of potential users of an broadband system, in order to mark the start of a project which has been given the name "ASK" (a Norwegian abbreviation of Arctic Satellite Communications).

Recommended by government

The project's aims are in line with the Norwegian government's recommendations linked to its Arctic Policy Strategy. Effective broadband coverage is vital to all activities currently being planned for the Arctic region. Activities such as oil and gas production, search and rescue operations, as well as communications for the ever-increasing shipping traffic in the area, are dependent on an effectively functioning capable of transmitting relatively large volumes of data.

"The systems we operate with today work relatively well in latitudes up to 75 degrees North", says Beate Kvamstad, Project Manager and researcher at MARINTEK. "Further north, we lack systems which are both stable and which can handle large volumes of data", she says. Kvamstad is responsible for the user requirement analysis which forms the basis of this technological development. She highlights the many motivating factors behind efforts to establish a broadband network in the Arctic.

These include the increasing number of reporting requirements linked to the fisheries industry; the monitoring of loads using sensors and video; state-of-the-art environmental monitoring; an increasing need to maintain an overview of advanced offshore operations; telemedicine; and the increased use of remote control systems for activities such as towing operations from the mainland.

After the user requirement analysis there will be a system specification development phase, followed by a tender process with the aim of obtaining prices and other information from potential suppliers. This will form the foundation for a business plan which will tell us something about the feasibility of the project. The work of sorting through the various technology options is already underway.

All pulling together

However, this project will require a sound funding strategy. Current cost estimates are between 2 and 3 billion Norwegian kroner. Lunde emphasizes that these estimates have been arrived at on the basis of cautious calculations, assuming development of a pure broadband network.

"In making these estimates, we have employed cautious and focused requirements and have removed the most cost-intensive special functions" says Lunde, who further emphasizes that the need for a broadband network in the Arctic is based on the demands of both private and public sector organisations.

"This is why we believe it is necessary that a wide range of organisations contribute towards funding the project. We must all pull together", she says. She adds that Telenor Satellite Broadcasting will be launching a completely new satellite, called THOR 7, in the summer of 2014.

This will be Telenor's first satellite with a payload entirely dedicated to maritime activities. Experience from this project will be of major significance to the development of the new Arctic broadband network.

Explore further: A radical re-invention for the Internet

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dish asks FCC to let it build wireless network

Aug 23, 2011

(AP) -- Satellite TV broadcaster Dish Network is asking regulators to let it build a wireless broadband network. Having one would let Dish compete more effectively with cable companies that can bundle broadband and TV signals.

A radical re-invention for the Internet

Apr 24, 2013

Remember the days when downloading one song could take 30 minutes and over 28 hours to download a movie? This, of course, was before the introduction of broadband which revolutionised Internet use. Now, broadband ...

Telecom gets nod for New Zealand broadband

May 24, 2011

New Zealand's largest telecoms company Telecom Corp. won a contract Tuesday to build most of the government's NZ$3.0 billion ($2.4 billion) ultra-fast broadband network, officials said.

Recommended for you

Quantenna promises 10-gigabit Wi-Fi by next year

13 hours ago

( —Quantenna Communications has announced that it has plans for releasing a chipset that will be capable of delivering 10Gbps WiFi to/from routers, bridges and computers by sometime next year. ...

Tech giants look to skies to spread Internet

20 hours ago

The shortest path to the Internet for some remote corners of the world may be through the skies. That is the message from US tech giants seeking to spread the online gospel to hard-to-reach regions.

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

22 hours ago

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

Apr 15, 2014

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Simplicity is key to co-operative robots

A way of making hundreds—or even thousands—of tiny robots cluster to carry out tasks without using any memory or processing power has been developed by engineers at the University of Sheffield, UK.

Microsoft CEO is driving data-culture mindset

( —Microsoft's future strategy: is all about leveraging data, from different sources, coming together using one cohesive Microsoft architecture. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday, both in ...

Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects—specifically, ...

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

( —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...