Constructing a telecommunications cable between Europe and Asia via the North-East Passage would be politically and technologically feasible, says a report presented to Finland's Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner by Paavo Lipponen and Reijo Svento. If the project was carried out, the cable would significantly speed up telecommunications between Europe and Asia and respond to the increasing capacity needs. It would also benefit the national economies in Europe, Russia and Asia.

According to the report, the key countries, among them Russia, China, Japan and Norway, would be interested in being involved in the project. A number of businesses were contacted during the course of the report's preparation.

"Every country agreed with the need for the project and was ready to treat official permits, for example, favourably. Private financing for the project and the real business opportunities it would open up were also considered important," Lipponen says.

"The report emphasizes that this technologically challenging project would have to be neutral in terms of both technology and the project parties so that it would provide equal benefits for everyone involved. All implementation stages would have to based on open competitive bidding," Svento says.

The challenges that came up during the study are related to such matters as information security and project financing. The company that would be responsible for the telecommunications should be neutral and able to ensure protection of privacy. Commercial parties have wanted to ensure that there are no political barriers to the implementation of the project.

The rapporteurs have presented a number of measures to promote the project. The key countries should be informed of the positive approach towards the project that has now been achieved. The project should be on the agendas of international meetings and should be given strong preference during the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council as of spring 2017.

The next step would be to establish a multinational project or company for taking the project forward. Funding of around EUR 4–6 million would presumably be needed for completing this stage and making more precise plans.

"I am committed to taking the project swiftly forward. The project is of great significance to banks, games industry and international development of the internet of things, for example. As a link between the North-East Passage and Baltic Sea cables Finland would have an excellent opportunity to become an international data traffic node," says Finland's Minister of Transport and Communications Anne Berner.

The submarine section of the cable would be a connection of around 10,500 km from Japan and China to Kirkenes in Norway and the Kola Peninsula in Russia. The project implementation is expected to take several years.

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