Norway aims to boost satellite broadband communications in the Arctic

The project will be undertaken with the U.S. and other allies and have military uses as well as civilian ones.

By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer - June 24, 2019
Two new satellites will provide internet access to large parts of the Arctic. (Space Norway via The Independent Barents Observer)

Norway is set to work with the U.S and other allies to develop a new broadband communication network in the Arctic.

“There is bad and unstable broadband coverage in the High North,” said Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen on Friday, as he announced the deal that is to help boost communications across the remote region.

The launch of two Norwegian-owned satellites developed by company Space Norway is to radically alter the situation. The launch is due in 2022 and internet connectivity north of the 65th Parallel will subsequently be available 24/7, according to the Norwegian Government.

Impact will be significant, representatives of Space Norway say. All kinds of vessels, including trawlers, tankers and cruise liners, will get stable access to internet wherever their location. Regional preparedness, search and rescue and crisis management will benefit.

Also the military is happy.

“This is tremendously important for the Armed Forces that have need for communications that meet operational requirements,” Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen says.

Norway is cooperating closely with the Americans in the project.

“The government has an ambition to strengthen communications capacities in the High North and has a long-term cooperation in the field with the USA,” Frank Bakke-Jensen underlines.

The two countries’ defense ministries have previously signed a satellite cooperation agreement.

Other allied forces will also be allowed to take use of the system, and there is close cooperation ongoing with countries like the U.K., Germany, France and Canada.

“It can be applied by forces from nations with which Norway has concluded agreements, in peacetime, crisis and conflict,” the minister makes clear.

The Norwegian government has injected $101 million in Space Norway, a state-owned company.

The company was established in 2013 based on the former Norwegian Space Center. According to Space Norway, the new satellite system will facilitate efficient surveillance and enhance protection of sovereignty in the Arctic.

“With the melting of the polar ice, the shipping activities in these areas increase, [and] the significance of the system be even bigger than originally planned for,” the company says on its website.