Australian authorities are currently reading a bold idea: to connect the country to Antarctica via submarine fiber-optic cable. The project is on the cards for the Australian Meteorological Center (BoM), which is considering installing an underwater data cable to Antarctica and improving satellite connectivity to its meteorological stations located at Davis, Casey, Mason and Macquarie Island at the South Pole.
“The Continental Fiber Optic Submarine Cable, which connects Australia to the Antarctic, will be part of a long-term communications program that will establish a reliable, high – frequency, low-pass communications service for Australian research stations for the next 25 years or so,” Bom said.
According to its officials, the construction of such a cable “will further enhance the security of the territory’s operations and capabilities by diversifying the telecommunications infrastructure used to operate the Bureau’s Antarctic meteorological services for the benefit of Australia. Keep in mind that they are located at a distance of kilometers from the office location.Long distance which is detrimental to the research capabilities of the country.
Straight ahead of the glacier!
Currently, the Antarctic division uses Speedcast ‘C-band satellite connections at each of the four stations, with a capacity of 9 MB / s and 300 ms. Each station has a backup data connection from Inmarsat’s global broadband network, which provides only 0.65 Mbps connection with a delay of 700 milliseconds. “The capacity of a fiber cable can be in the order of tens of thousands of terabytes per second, and a single connection can have line speeds of 10 to 100 gigabits per second,” Australian meteorological officials explained.
“Currently, there is no fiber-optic submarine link to the Antarctic continent, which will provide unprecedented speed and reliability and establish Australia as the world’s leading leader and international partner.”
However, as the Antarctic environment presents challenges, this project is not without risk, mainly in the form of glaciers. “Coastal approaches should be considered carefully, with mitigation options and vulnerabilities caused by cable connection interruptions, especially if medical or security systems rely on increased communication capability.”
Way of the wind
It is enough to study the satellite solution. “In situations where an approach to the beach is blocked by glaciers, it is necessary to create internal wireless communications,” BoM estimates. Beyond cables, BoM presents the idea of improving its satellite connectivity options, which include the ability to provide connectivity between two geostationary satellites and to carry out high-resolution meteorological research currently based on Japanese satellites.
“Today, the Bureau relies on commercial communications satellite providers to access its remote bases and Antarctic research stations. This risk can be mitigated by establishing, ”Bom argues.
Last month, the bureau told Australia’s aerospace industry development team that the country needed sovereign satellite capability. About 20% of BoM sites on remote islands use 3G connectivity as their primary connection, along with low frequency backup satellites. The console is exploring the possibility of using 4G and 5G connections instead, and is using satellites to improve connectivity.