Norway plans new subsea cable to Ireland

Norway plans new subsea cable to Ireland

Celtic Norse map and headshot 995x559.jpg

A new submarine cable system is in the works linking the city of Øysanden, in Melhus municipality in Norway, just south of the city of Trondheim and Killala Bay, County Mayo in the Republic of Ireland.

Tentatively called Celtic Norse, the 2,000km cable is being planned as an extension of the Aqua Comms existing AEC-1 cable, which runs from Ireland to New York. A regionally owned company called Nordavind Data Center Sites however, is developing Celtic Norse.

Speaking exclusively to Capacity, Erling Aronsveen (pictured above), development director of Celtic Norse, said: “The Celtic Norse sea cable will enable regional Norway to connect its attractive sites and vast renewable power resources to Europe and America with better response times to Eastern Seaboard US than anywhere in the Nordic region.” 

According to Aronsveen, there is plenty of land and power to accommodate so-called hyperscale data centres in Norway, but the international connectivity is not optimal.

“At present, all fibre in central Norway is routed through Oslo, but that won’t do for data centres, he explains. “So what we’re proposing to our owners and other utility companies in this part of Norway is to build our own cable. In doing so we are making Trondheim a landing point for international connectivity with almost direct connectivity to the US. Plus with the landing in Ireland we also reach those data centre markets.”

Unlike traditional cables that would be built with anchor tenants Celtic Norse will leverage “the organisations, the municipalities and those that stand to benefit from this, to invest in this system,” says Aronsveen.

Though no official figure have been given, Aronsveen estimates the total cost for the development is below 500 million NOK (approximately $57 million).

Celtic Norse now begins securing financing half of which, Aronsveen hopes to finance through the local municipalities and businesses in the region, with the rest to be raised through private equity firms and banks.

In Iceland, Vodafone Iceland is developing its own subsea cable project between Iceland and Ireland. Vodafone and Nordavind are working together to investigate possible synergies between the two projects. This cooperation could open a new connectivity on the Norway – Iceland - Ireland triangle.  

“If we collaborate, we could potentially cut their construction in half if we create a branch to their cable," continues Aronsveen. “An added bonus is that it could create a completely new connection between Iceland and Norway. I know there are ICT-based companies in Iceland that does business in Norway and vice versa. There’s the potential to do business there.”

“We are very pleased with our agreement with Nordavind. Vodafone Iceland has been developing a project around a new fibre cable between Iceland and Ireland over the past 2 years. We believe there are significant benefits for a cooperation with Nordavind. Not only is significant section of the subsea lay the same, resulting in potential cost savings but the cable could further strengthen the Iceland-Norway cooperation as a new and joint cable project could provide the first direct fiber connection between Iceland and Norway,” says Thorvardur Sveinsson, COO  of Vodafone Iceland.

The partnership with Vodafone will also play a part in the capacity of the cable depending on how many fibre pairs Vodafone would want for example, but it will carry a minimum of 8 fibre-pairs, says Aronsveen.

From a backhaul perspective Nordavind is also part of a terrestrial fibre consortium in the Nordics made of 12-15 different fibre owners that have pooled all their fibre together into a dark fibre value proposition for the region.

“We did this so that OTTs or any companies wanting to develop something in the region, won’t have to wade through all the different companies that own fibre, this is one top shop offering,” says  Aronsveen. “So for backhaul for this cable we can just draw on our partners and create a strong product on the terrestrial side.”

The idea for the system, according to Aronsveen, was originally proposed by Aqua Comms 3-4 years ago as an idea to develop the Norwegian market.

“We weren’t ready to enter into this discussion at the time, but since then Norway has matured and we’re ready now,” he explains. “There’s government funding for these types of projects and their understanding of the business is much greater.”

With an RFS data of 2021, the next phase is to secure funding and Nordavind has a goal of Q3 2019. “If we manage to get it we will fast track permitting and marine surveys to get it built, says Aronsveen. “If we have partial financing by Q3, we will use it to get permitting, marine surveys while we secure the rest.”

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