This summer, work will begin on a trio of undersea cables linking Japan to the United Kingdom. Two of those lines will make their way through the Canadian Arctic, while the third will follow the northern coast of Russia. Total estimated cost: $600 million to $1.5 billion—each.
ExtremeTech has the goods on the projects, which are expected to cut the packet latency between London and Tokyo from 230 to 170 milliseconds. A drop of 26% might not seem like much considering the potential billions involved, but the move will reportedly pay big dividends for firms engaged in computer-driven stock trading. Although Counter-Strike players will surely still complain about lag, there's reason for Torrent fans to drool; each cable is estimated to offer bandwidth in the terabits-per-second range.
Improving Internet performance isn't the only reason new cables are going to be dragged through Arctic waters. The planned continental links will also add redundancy. Undersea cables can be damaged by ship anchors, and there are several examples of severed cables disrupting Internet service in Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia.
Internet communication between Japan and the UK currently takes place over cables that traverse Europe or cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, cutting through North America along the way. The new routes are shorter, and because they travel through regions covered with ice most of the year, the cables should be safer than if they had been placed in busier shipping lanes.