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Ian McColgin
01-22-2010, 09:19 AM
A foolish project if the deniers are correct.

January 21, 2010

Global Warming Opens Up Arctic for Undersea Cable

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 5:02 p.m. ET

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Global warming has melted so much Arctic ice that a telecommunication group is moving forward with a project that was unthinkable just a few years ago: laying underwater fiber optic cable between Tokyo and London by way of the Northwest Passage.

The proposed system would nearly cut in half the time it takes to send messages from the United Kingdom to Asia, said Walt Ebell, CEO of Kodiak-Kenai Cable Co. The route is the shortest underwater path between Tokyo and London.

The quicker transmission time is important in the financial world where milliseconds can count in executing profitable trades and transactions. ''Speed is the crux,'' Ebell said. ''You're cutting the delay from 140 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds.''

The project, while still facing many significant obstacles, also serves as an example of how warming has altered the Arctic landscape in profound ways.

The loss of summer sea ice prompted the U.S. to list polar bears as a threatened species in May 2008. Walrus in two of the last three years gathered by the thousands on Alaska's northwest shore rather than ride pack ice to unproductive waters beyond the outer continental shelf.

Summer sea ice melted to its lowest recorded level ever in late 2007, and most climate modelers predict a continued downward spiral. The result is a path through the Northwest Passage, the Arctic route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific that has fascinated explorers for centuries.

''That opens up the construction window to actually do something like this without the need of heavy icebreakers,'' Ebell said. ''On the other side, you've got the market part of it and the increasing demand we're seeing for lower and lower latencies, or transmission times.''

But the project, called ArcticLink, is not without hurdles -- namely the estimated construction price of $1.2 billion, said Alan Mauldin, research director at TeleGeography Research, a Washington, D.C.-based telecommunications market research company.

''That's not a cheap project,'' he said by phone from the Slovak Republic.

By comparison, a line beginning service next month between Japan and the U.S. West Coast was built for $300 million, he said.

The leaders of the project will need to persuade telecommunications companies to buy a piece of the capacity created by the cable. Telecom companies will make that decision largely based on demand from financial companies.

''What we've seen is just because you have a diverse path does not mean that you can necessarily sell that capacity for much more than the current market price,'' Mauldin said.

Ebell uses the analogy of building a shopping mall to describe the financing process: Secure some initial investments and then lure an anchor tenant to really drive the project forward.

The cable will cut a 10,000-mile path across half the world: It would be laid in deep water from Japan to the Aleutian Islands, then traverse north through the relatively shallow waters of the Bering Sea.

The line would need a regeneration station -- essentially a booster of the signal to compensate for the long distance -- on the northern coast of Alaska, probably at Prudhoe Bay. From there, it will wend its way through the Northwest Passage, then dip around the southern tip of Greenland and across the North Atlantic to the United Kingdom.

Branches off the line would provide access to the East Coast of the U.S., ensuring quicker transmission times between Tokyo and New York, Ebell said.

''It will provide the domestic market an alternative route not only to Europe -- there's lots of cable across the Atlantic -- but it will provide the East Coast with an alternative, faster route to Asia as well,'' he said.

The cable would pass mostly through U.S., Canadian international waters and avoid possible trouble spots along the way.

''You're not susceptible to 'events,' I should say, that you might run into with a cable that runs across Russia or the cables that run down around Asia and go up through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea. You're getting away from those choke points.''

Ebell's Anchorage-based company is partnering with KhaNNet, part of Khanjee Holdings, Inc., on the project, and the partners are pursuing financing.

The company also hopes to link rural Alaska communities to the cable. It has applied for $350 million in federal stimulus money, nearly 5 percent of that total for broadband grant and loan program, for lines to eight hub communities in western and northern Alaska. The Asia-Europe line does not depend on stimulus money, Ebell said.

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High C
01-22-2010, 12:54 PM
http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/ansem/ansem0909/ansem090900011/5603322.jpg

BarnacleGrim
01-22-2010, 01:20 PM
Do it. Even if the passage could freeze over again they should be able to get some good use of it.

mmd
01-22-2010, 01:32 PM
It should be rather interesting to get proper permissions. If I recall correctly, there is very little "international waters" through the Polar Sea; most is within the economic jurisdiction of Canada, The USSR and Denmark, I believe. I trust that it will be profitable to us if we allow the cable to run through the Canadian high arctic achipelago.

Popeye
01-22-2010, 02:15 PM
Even if the passage could freeze over again they should be able to get some good use of it.

um .. there is less and less summer sea ice around these days , the passage doesn't actually 'freeze over' like a giant skating rink

mmd also points out the arctic sovereignty issue , there really is no reliable legal precedent in these areas

TomF
01-22-2010, 02:34 PM
It should be rather interesting to get proper permissions. If I recall correctly, there is very little "international waters" through the Polar Sea; most is within the economic jurisdiction of Canada, The USSR and Denmark, I believe. I trust that it will be profitable to us if we allow the cable to run through the Canadian high arctic achipelago.Just a very small fee levied on every data transfer. :D

Popeye
01-22-2010, 02:44 PM
.. a telecommunication group is moving forward with a project .. laying underwater fiber optic cable between Tokyo and London by way of the Northwest Passage.

did anyone ever mention to them the small problem with iceberg scouring ..?

http://www.oikonos.org/apfieldguide/album/physical%20phenomena/slides/scouring%20iceberg.jpg

i'm just saying ..

James McMullen
01-22-2010, 04:02 PM
Fiber optic cabling is a hoax! I cut one of those cables open once, and there wasn't even a hole for the light to flow through! It was just, like, this solid plastic stuff.

Wake up, you sheeple!

BrianW
01-22-2010, 08:21 PM
did anyone ever mention to them the small problem with iceberg scouring ..?

http://www.oikonos.org/apfieldguide/album/physical%20phenomena/slides/scouring%20iceberg.jpg

i'm just saying ..

There are currently 2 underwater oil/natural gas pipelines that run between man made islands in the Beaufort Sea and the mainland coast. One is 3 miles long, the other just a mile or so. The longer one, to North Star Island, I know is surveyed for scouring, and exposure from ice 'strudels'. 'Strudels' occur when the rivers break up prior to the sea ice, and river water runs out on top of the ice. The water will find natural cracks or seal breathing holes, the start flowing down into the hole with such force the current creates depressions in the sea bottom exposing the pipes.

In any case, buried to about 8ft deep, there's been no issue to date.

Paul Pless
01-22-2010, 08:43 PM
It should be rather interesting to get proper permissions. If I recall correctly, there is very little "international waters" through the Polar Sea; most is within the economic jurisdiction of Canada.ya'll should probably get working on a proper navy one of these days...

mmd
01-22-2010, 09:52 PM
Oddly enough, Paul, I did do exactly that at one time in my career. I worked for an NA firm that did the design work for the Canadian Patrol Frigate Program and while I was there I did some work on a proposal for the Canadian Navy to acquire some subs to patrol the Arctic Ocean to exercise sovereignty over our territory. The government of the day decided that it was more cost effective to have the Innuit Rangers patrol the region on land and ice and to have you folks worry about the airspace. I think that this was the wrong decision and believe that we should have a strong presence in the region to assert our owneship. Unfortunately, few if any in power in Ottawa come to me for advice...

Woxbox
01-22-2010, 11:25 PM
''You're cutting the delay from 140 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds.''

I'm having a hard time getting excited about this prospect.

Ian McColgin
01-22-2010, 11:53 PM
Some of this matters. A few years ago I spent an entertaining afternoon doing some utility regulation deep-think with a guy who really was one of the guys who invented the internet. Besides educating regulators he had a lovely job designing computer protocols for the a projected NASA Mars mission, the big deal being how to handle time.

It's really cool what drives innovation, by the way. Far more than commercial needs, on the internet, was the market demand created by games. Not just a game but interactive. Not just interactive by you need to see your opponent. Need to see him (geeks are almost always guys) die in 3-D with sound. Little wonder the screen on my little MacBook is better than my old TV.

But that's an aside.

I, Rowboat
01-23-2010, 12:07 AM
Can't we do better than this? A straight-line borehole drilled directly between Japan and England would be even faster than a meandering path through the arctic, and would require boondoggles worth of money! Huzzah!

The Bigfella
01-23-2010, 12:16 AM
Can't we do better than this? A straight-line borehole drilled directly between Japan and England would be even faster than a meandering path through the arctic, and would require boondoggles worth of money! Huzzah!

C'mon.... everyone knows that if you bore straight through, you get to China.

Nicholas Carey
01-23-2010, 12:39 AM
''Speed is the crux,'' Ebell said. ''You're cutting the delay from 140 milliseconds to 88 milliseconds.''


I'm having a hard time getting excited about this prospect.

Put it in more practical, real-world terms that even a teenage boy could understand: the reduction in network latency means better MMPORPGs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massively_multiplayer_online_role-playing_game) and better, faster porn :D