At the end of January, the AEC organized a side event during the Arctic Frontiers conference in Tromsø. The subject of the side event was Telecommunications in the Arctic. The event continued the discussions started at the Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit held in July 2016 and the discussions on “Connecting the Arctic” started during this year’s Arctic Frontiers Business conference.

 The AEC Chair Tara Sweeney lead a panel of four industry experts. The speakers included Khaled N. Sedrak, Founder and CEO of NxtVn Group; Tom Løwehr, CSO Offshore of Telenor Maritime, the CEO of Bredbandsfylket Troms Ltd Dag-Kjetil Hansen, and the chair of the AEC Infrastructure: Telecommunications Working Group

All panelists agreed that there is a need for governments to view telecommunications infrastructure as any other necessary infrastructure. One of the proposals was to even replace the word “telecommunication” and call it instead connectivity infrastructure.

The effects of good connectivity are many. Connectivity could improve safety and efficiency In the services of the maritime transportation community. The panelists referred to for example the growing use of electrical ferries. The use of electrical ferries requires exact information on how wind and stream conditions are to be able to measure how to extend reach of battery. This leads to a need to collect and share data.

For communities currently without broadband, the benefits for getting it will be high, although difficult to quantify. In Norway, remote communities are well aware of the importance of broadband. With improved connectivity, schools in the district can have the same opportunities as city center schools. Connectivity is  vital to telemedicine. Thus, broadband development can truly enhance the development in the district.  

After the panel discussion Robert McDowell, the chair of the AEC Infrastructure: Telecommunicatios Working Group presented the Working Group’s work product. Their report is titled “Arctic Broadband – Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic”, and is according to McDowell the first of its kind.

McDowell explained that the report takes stock of the current state of broadband in the Arctic, and makes both legal and regulatory recommendations, as well as recommendations to tax reforms for deployment.

The presentation gathered a lot of responses and questions, from suggestions on how to proceed with next steps to congratulations on an important contribution.

McDowell finished: “This report is the first of its kind. I hope more will follow to help improve the human conditions.”

Read the report here.

Photo: Alberto Grohovaz/Arctic Frontiers.