How much does it cost to run an optical cable from Japan to England – across the arctic? Well, it looks like we’ll find out this summer, as an army of ice-breaking ships and cable laying ships embark on the massive arctic project. As it stands now, there will be three different cable run, zig-zagging the Northwest Passage, arctic and northern pacific – all adding up to an estimated cost of $1.5 Billion.
…All three cables are being laid for the same reasons: Redundancy and speed. As it stands, it takes roughly 230 milliseconds for a packet to go from London to Tokyo; the new cables will reduce this by 30% to 170ms. This speed-up will be gained by virtue of a much shorter run: Currently, packets from the UK to Japan either have to traverse Europe, the Middle East, and the Indian Ocean, or the Atlantic, US, and Pacific, both routes racking up around 15,000 miles in the process. It’s only 10,000 miles (16,000km) across the Arctic Ocean, and you don’t have to mess around with any land crossings, either…
Surprisingly, this is a project that has been in the works for some time but the recent massive melt-off of arctic ice (due to global weather conditions or man) has opened a window, from August to October, for the ships to work ice free. Link it up!