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Home BUSINESSNo bar on building Northeast Passage cable
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Sat, 26 Nov, 2016 07:30:26 PM
FTimes-Xinhua Report, Nov 26

A Finnish feasibility study published on Friday considered that a high volume telecommunication cable along the Northeast Passage in the Arctic Sea, connecting Asia and Europe, would be both politically and technologically viable.

The report said key countries, including Russia, China, Japan and Norway, would be interested in being involved in the project.

The study underlined that the project, if carried out, needs to be neutral towards the participating countries and would have to provide equal benefits for everyone involved.

The study was led by former Finnish prime minister Paavo Lipponen, who, after his active political career, has had consultancy roles in international projects such as the Baltic gas pipeline.

He was assigned by the Finnish government to investigate the feasibility of the arctic cable last May. Lipponen carried out the probe together with Reijo Svento, former CEO of the Finnish Federation of Communications and Teleinformatics.

During the study, the investigators came up with challenges concerning issues like information security and project financing, said the report.

It added that the company responsible for the telecommunications should be neutral and able to ensure the protection of privacy.

"Every country agreed with the need for the project and was ready to issue official permits favorably," Lipponen indicated on Friday.

Some unidentified potential commercial parties had wanted to be assured that there would be no political barriers to the implementation of the project.

In a statement on Friday, Finnish Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner expressed commitment to taking the project forward. She said the project is of great significance to the banks, the games industry and international development of the internet of things.

As a link between the Northeast Passage and the Baltic Sea, Finland would have an excellent opportunity to become an international data traffic hub, she said.

The project is to highlight the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council beginning in spring 2017.

Mikael Nyberg, Director General of the Ministry of Transport and Communications told Xinhua that the connection is likely to be operational in three to four years. The next step would be to establish a multinational project or company for taking the project forward.

Nyberg said the capacity of the existing direct connection from Finland to Germany would be sufficient for the needs of the Asian connection. The Finland-Germany cable completed last year could serve as the final leg from Asia to continental Europe. 

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