Connectivity is considered highly important to provide better quality of life and more business opportunities. The Arctic is characterized by a dispersed population, harsh climate and lower rates of broadband adoption than non-Arctic regions. The challenges posed by the Arctic to broadband deployment and adoption are also unlike any on the planet. The AEC Connectivity Working Group works with the challenges that must be considered and surmounted in order to expand broadband in the Arctic.

The Working Group on Connectivity  introduces five pillars for success to consider when working to overcome connectivity challenges in the Arctic.

• Pillar 1: Investment – Develop a pan-Arctic solution that requires providers to follow an “all of the above” approach, picking the best technology for each situation based on a variety of local factors, including land ownership, permitting requirements, economic and demographic conditions, operational factors and terrain characteristics.

• Pillar 2: Arctic Datacenters – Capture the opportunity presented by the increasing dependency on and power consumption of datacenters. The Arctic’s proximity to three continents, access to renewable energy and cool climate (limited air conditioning costs) are ideal for the future deployment of datacenters.

• Pillar 3: Game Changing Investments – Leverage complex public and private projects that require multi-use infrastructure to build business cases that reduce cost. From mineral extraction to deep water port construction, larger investment efforts can drive connectivity growth, along with other critical infrastructure.

• Pillar 4: Improvement, Competitiveness and Economic Opportunity – Overcome the size of Arctic communities with increased collaboration among diverse Arctic business segments, governments, academia and social groups.

• Pillar 5: Communication Industry Models – Understand the variety of communication models available to providers in the Arctic. No single solution will meet the needs of all Arctic industries, public sectors, and communities – a mosaic approach must be considered.

These pillars are based on the body of knowledge published by Top of the World Summit, Arctic Council and other Arctic stakeholders, there appears to be unanimity as to the importance of connecting the people of the Arctic to the world. Given the sparse populations, formidable climate and extreme location, advanced communication capabilities are requisite elements for growth. The dearth of connectivity has and will continue to hamper sustainable economic development.

Previous work on Connectivity

Report: “Arctic Broadband – Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic”

The report: “Arctic Broadband – Recommendations for an Interconnected Arctic” was published in January 2017. The AEC’s Telecommunications Working Group’s report was the first of its kind, providing an analysis of the state of Arctic broadband. It also presents different funding options applicable in the Arctic, an overview of planned and ongoing projects related to connectivity, and gives recommendations for future. The report can be found here

Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit

The Working Group has initiated the AEC Top of the World Arctic Broadband Summit (TOW Summit). The first TOW Summit was held in Barrow, Alaska in 2016. It gathered more than 100 participants including policy leaders, tech industry experts and other executives. Following positive feedback from the industry, the second TOW Summit was held in Oulu, Finland in 2017 in collaboration with the City of Oulu. Being held back-to-back with the EU Arctic Stakeholder Forum, the 2017 TOW Summit provided great synergy opportunities for improved dialogue between the Arctic business community and policy decision makers. The 3rd TOW Summit was held on June 27-28, 2018 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan.