back to article Funds sought for first submarine cable to Antarctica

Chilean state-run infrastructure fund Desarrollo País and Singapore-based BW Digital subsidiary H2 Cable have issued a request for proposals to build a 15,000km submarine cable to connect Latin America, Asia Pacific, Oceania – and Antarctica. The duo are looking to partner with "the world's best suppliers" for turnkey supply …

  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I initially made the mistake of reading this in the context of power, which of course, over the distances quoted would be utter B.S.!

    In the context of data, well, yes OK, I guess communications is possible by this route. But surely the reliability and maintainability of such a route in the oceans circling the South Pole will be horrendous?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      In engineering terms, I don't see why it would be different from any other long undersea cable. The notable feature here, surely, is that someone now thinks this is economically worthwhile.

      1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        If it gets as far as a route survey, it could produce some interesting data. But my thoughts would be the combination of strong currents, bad weather, seismic and volcanic activity, and maybe the occasional lump of ice scouring the cable. Plus power requirements, ie generating enough juice to power the cable and it's torpedoes. SLAs may also suck on account of the weather around those parts, which would also be a big cost element. Not sure if there are any cable maintenance ships covering that part of the world currently.

        Then again, I guess the combination of natural cooling plus geothermal activity might make it an ideal place for the next generation of cryptominers. General datacentres might be less useful unless we can hit penguins with an FEV so they can run call centres there. I've always thought OTT routing around the North Pole could be more fun, although equally challenging.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Hostile work enviornment

          Yeah, without very careful route planning and possibly additional bedding, this may be tough to keep running. Re-patching breaks in a crossing of the entirety of the Furious Fifties and Shrieking Sixties, the idea gives me the willies.

          Not that is can't our shouldn't be done, just that it's a pretty brutal environment. Still, once it's laid in it would provide a critical service for ongoing science in Antarctica. Since we are looking at parking some new science instruments down in the cold, it would reduce the turn around time considerably if the winter data didn't have to get flown out on the first flight after the sun came back up.

          May also save lives if they need to perform advanced telemedicine or deal with other failures. I have seen the postings for the over winter sysadmin job there. Never thought I was a good enough hand with a soldering iron to be the guy to McGuyver a failing Satcom system in the howling dark. I feel like whoever that person is they deserve a backup connection and a shot at a (number of hours equivalent to a middle latitude) nights sleep.

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: Hostile work enviornment

            Same.. I used to drink with some BAS folks and was encouraged to apply for a support post down there. Declined for much the same reason, but would have been fascinating spending a season or off-season.

            This would be a fascinating job though. Matting and trenching's usually done in-shore or shallow areas, but where there's high currents/flow, it doesn't always last long. If not, then I suspect there'd be a high risk of the cable getting dragged & snapped or abraded. It wouldn't be a cheap system though, even if there are obvious scientific benefits. Not sure if politics would play a part given the territorial divisions in Antarctica, and the distances between bases.

            But if I ever get really rich & shameless, one of my things to do would be fund research to figure out what the SAA is. That's just weird :)

      2. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Notable . BW Digital Pte. Ltd., is an "affiliate" of BW Group (Bergesen World-Wide), the successor of Ningbo born, Shanghai trained Sir Yue-Kong Pao's Hong Kong based World-Wide Shipping founded in 1955.

        Now run by Andreas Sohmen-Pao, son of Anna, one of YK's daughters.

        Now back to expanding in Shanghai!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Antarctic outage

    Trying to get a BT engineer out to look at their internet would be a nightmare!

  4. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    Shall we start a sweepstakes...

    ...on how long it is before someone suggests building a luxury hotel in the Antarctic? My money's on, oh, 2026, I think.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shall we start a sweepstakes...

      Already there but it's seasonal, and the level of luxury is not at the top of any of the lists. People should probably just keep going to the Alps, but that wouldn't have the novelty right?

      Wait till there is a tube train all the way there from Tierra del Fuego, along with the obligatory Ice Hotel, underwater hotel, Hard rock Antarctica and, of course, don't forget the hallmark of late stage, terminal metastatic tourism, the Bubba-Gump Shrimp Company. Please exit though the duty free gift shop, additional parking for the mall is on the left. Don't forget to validate.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Shall we start a sweepstakes...

      They just have to moor one of the many luxury tourist ships polluting the environment already.

  5. SlartisBreakfast

    "BW Global's International Connectivity Services is scheduled to ... engage with anchor customers"

    No submarine cable expert am I, but I would have thought it best to keep anchors well away?

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      BW is basically a shipowner that has branched into other activities, so "anchor" was apt.

  6. that one in the corner Silver badge

    That is one long cable

    All the way to the impenetrable icewall, round the edge and then back up again!

    1. gandalfcn Silver badge

      Re: That is one long cable

      Quite, you beat me to it. 700,000 km.!

      And then there's the firmament to deal with too.

  7. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge


    Could over winter in Antarctica and do Linux kernel releases from there

  8. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Back in the 1980s the entire (non-military) communications capacity of Scott Base and McMurdo consisted of 4 voice circuits, one of which carried a bunch of 50 baud data channels - and it only operated for 6-8 hours/day

    Source: I was one of the people who used to turn it on and off (and off for the last time when it went to satellite)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the early 1970s the communications link from South Africa to IT support in the UK was via Telex. Trying to explain the symptoms of a complicated bug in the minimum of words for an expensive cable message was usually self-defeating. Airmail only took a few days though - although surface mail with UK newspapers was more like a month.

      Only twenty years later (1993) - in Hong Kong not only was there live BBC TV News via satellite - but we could also email back to the office via the internet.

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