Russia has launched a unique project in the Far North to lay the longest offshore fiber-optic cable in the world. It will be the cable “Polar Express”, which will start in the polar Teriberka and end in Vladivostok, passing along the bottom of two oceans, the Arctic and Pacific, about 12,650 km. The new fiber-optic communication line (FOCL) will be a real “digital artery” of the Russian Arctic, passing the entire route of the Northern Sea Route.
What tasks should the new submarine cable fulfill? And what opportunities will Russia get from the implementation of this project? About this – in the material FAN.
A still from the film “Leviathan”.  /
The cable did not fit right away
The exit point of the new Russian submarine cable is located at the coastal station near the polar village of Teriberka on the Kola Peninsula. It is symbolic that it was there in 2014 that the main field shooting of the film “Leviathan” took place, the themes of which were Russian hopelessness and the hardships of life in northern villages.
Paradoxically, since then Teriberka has become one of the centers of Russian tourism: the cinematic fame turned the village into a Mecca for visiting travelers, and the infrastructure and state of the village have radically changed for the better. Now Teriberka plans to become one of the centers of the beginning digitalization of the Far North.
The sloped part of the new cable is now ready. Russian specialists with the help of horizontal drilling rigs laid the first 4 kilometers of cable in Teriberka itself and in the coastal zone of the Barents Sea. Now this coastal part of the digital highway needs to be connected to a deep-sea cable, the laying of which started at the end of last week.
The fiber-optic cable of the “Polar Express” is designed for the extreme conditions of the Arctic – it can withstand temperatures from -50 to +50 ºС and is laid with a depth of up to one and a half meters, to protect against trawling or accidental anchoring in the area of its route. Where it is impossible to recess the cable for geological or other reasons, it will be “dressed” in single or double armor, providing tensile strength of up to 50 tons.
TASS  / Fedoseev Lev
From Teriberka, the cable-laying vessel will go eastward in order to reach the next cable exit point on land in 2021 and 2022 – the village of Amderma, located in the Zapolyarny District of the Nenets Autonomous Okrug. There, preparatory work has already begun on the construction of the receiving ground station for the “Polar Express”, to which the cable should reach by next summer.
A whole fleet of cable, auxiliary and research vessels will be used to lay and configure fiber-optic communication lines. By 2025, the FOCL should connect the two main Arctic ports of Russia – Dikson in Taimyr and Pevek in Chukotka with the “mainland”.
Most likely, in order to maintain such a high pace of work, work will have to be carried out simultaneously in several areas at once, because in the harsh conditions of the Arctic, cable-laying vessels can work only for several months a year, when the sea is free of ice.
In 2026, the Far East segment of the Polar Express is to be launched, which will connect Anadyr, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Nakhodka and Vladivostok. As a result, both cable segments will be connected in the Bering Strait.
TASS  / Fedoseev Lev
What Russia will get
The role of the “Polar Express” for the development of the Far North can hardly be overestimated.
Firstly, the project itself for its manufacture, installation and commissioning is already the highest technology, the presence of which can boast of only a dozen countries around the world. At the same time, the cable itself will be completely Russian: its production has been established in Murmansk, at a plant specially built for this purpose.
Secondly, the FOCL will provide stable telephone and Internet communications in the vast regions of the Russian Arctic. The complexity of these territories is that they are located at a great distance from the central regions of the country and the construction of ground cable lines to them is associated with a lot of problems. For example, with the factor of permafrost, in which cable equipment often fails.
There is also a problem with satellite communications. At high latitudes, it can only be provided by vehicles in a highly elliptical orbit of the “Molniya” type, but more such satellites are needed than in a geostationary orbit, their lifespan is shorter, and the capacity of communication channels is still insufficient for today’s tasks.
The Polar Express project allows us to get away from the shortcomings and limitations of terrestrial and satellite communication lines. Laying 12,650 km of cable from six pairs of optical fibers will provide data transfer rates of up to 100 Tbit / s with a signal delay of less than 90 milliseconds – this is at the level of modern fiber-optic communication lines operating in other regions of Russia.
TASS  / Fedoseev Lev
Thanks to this, the Far North will cease to be a “dead corner”, which is connected with the “mainland” only by thin threads of unreliable communication channels. He will receive a real “digital highway”, in many ways superior to communication lines in other regions of the country.
In general, the digitalization of the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route will allow the development of other important projects in these remote areas, relying on reliable and modern communications.