How Submarine Cables Enhance Digital Collaboration | IGF 2023 Town Hall #80

9 Oct 2023 00:45h - 10 Oct 2023 01:15h UTC

Event report

Speakers and Moderators

Speakers:
  • Jun Murai, WIDE
  • Keiko Okawa, WIDE
  • Valter Nordh, NORDUnet
  • Jørgen Qvist, NORDUnet
  • Paul Rouse, GÉANT
  • Hendrik Ike, GÉANT
  • Chris Atherton, GÉANT
  • Dr. Satoshi Matsuoka, Center for Computational Science, RIKEN
  • Dr. Masafumi Oe, The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ)
  • Magnus Friberg, KDDI
Moderators:
  • Paul Rouse, GÉANT
  • Chris Atherton, GÉANT

Table of contents

Disclaimer: This is not an official record of the IGF session. The DiploAI system automatically generates these resources from the audiovisual recording. Resources are presented in their original format, as provided by the AI (e.g. including any spelling mistakes). The accuracy of these resources cannot be guaranteed. The official record of the session can be found on the IGF's official website.

Knowledge Graph of Debate

Session report

Hendrik Ike

Submarine cables play a critical role in facilitating international cooperation in internet governance and diplomacy. The agreements between various entities, such as NRENs/Rens, are built on trust and reciprocity. These agreements enable public entities to share and disseminate public research and educational data, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange.

The evolving landscape of internet ownership and utilization underscores the significance of an open, resilient, and distributed internet structure to support research and education. The demand for investments in submarine systems is driven by the growth of research and educational activities, particularly in remote and traditional routes.

Submarine cables also serve as physical geopolitical solutions to the increasingly politicized internet. By providing reliable connectivity across borders, submarine cables promote international collaboration in research and education. This aligns with the goals of SDG 9: Industries, Innovation, and Infrastructure, and SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals in fostering global partnerships.

Strategic agreement provisions for submarine cables between the European Union and Japan have significant implications for scientific, political, and economic aspects. These agreements demonstrate the recognition of the importance of submarine cables in facilitating international cooperation and advancing research and educational initiatives.

However, the construction and operation of submarine cable systems present complex challenges. Paul Rouse describes them as intricate engineering projects that require careful design and construction. The complexity arises from the various components involved and the need to navigate through different territories and environments.

Successful submarine cable projects often involve multi-stakeholder collaborations. The involvement of multiple member states or nations enhances project outcomes and strengthens partnerships. Hendrik Ike highlights the importance of multi-stakeholder collaboration in achieving project success, enabling different interests and expertise to contribute to the project's objectives.

To summarize, submarine cables are crucial for international cooperation in internet governance, diplomacy, research, and education. Trust-based agreements facilitate the exchange of public research and educational data. The evolving internet landscape necessitates an open and resilient structure. Submarine cables also provide geopolitical solutions and are strategically recognized by the European Union and Japan. However, the complexity of designing and implementing submarine cable systems requires careful planning and coordination, often through multi-stakeholder collaborations.

Jun Murai

The discussions revolve around various topics related to infrastructure, technology, and funding in the Asia-Pacific region. The WIDE project, which has been operational for 35 years, focuses on improving infrastructure and technology research for the internet in the Asia-Pacific region. It involves more than 100 companies, including Starbucks, and encompasses professionals, engineers, and scientists. This project has a positive sentiment and aims to enhance internet infrastructure and technology research.

The need for a large funding body in the Asia-Pacific region similar to the EU and US is highlighted. The EU and US have significant funding bodies promoting research that ultimately results in the installation of submarine cables. However, the Asia-Pacific region lacks such a body, leading to the argument that there is a need for one to facilitate the installation of new submarine cables. This argument is expressed with a neutral sentiment.

The WIDE project started ARINAPAC, an arterial research and educational network, to create a supportive infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region and link it to Europe and America. This initiative receives positive sentiment and supports the SDG goals of industry, innovation, and infrastructure and partnerships for the goals.

There is also support for the development of Wet ROADM (reconfigurable optical add and drop multiplexer) technology for submarine cables. Wet ROADM allows for the reconfiguration of spectrum splitting for future adjustments and enables adding or dropping traffic without reinstalling the fiber. This positive sentiment stance supports SDG goal 9.

The importance of effective collaborative projects between multiple stakeholders is emphasized by Jun Murai, with in-kind contributions being a significant aspect. Past collaborations mentioned include satellite transponder companies working together and high-speed switches and equipment developers participating in interoperability testing. Additionally, a wide project exploring new technology is mentioned, highlighting the mutual benefits of collaboration from an investment perspective. This argument has a positive sentiment and emphasizes the importance of collaboration and in-kind contributions for future networking progress.

Connectivity in Southeast Asia is seen as crucial, with Jun Murai supporting collaboration between the EU and JAN. The initiation of IHPI and satellite utilization, as well as the reference to 10 efforts to connect as the next generation of terrestrial connectivity, are mentioned. A three-phase plan is also outlined, involving satellite connection as phase 1, TEN connectivity as phase 2, and the redesigning of southern connectivity utilizing the Arctic Ocean as phase 3. This argument has a positive sentiment and highlights the importance of collaboration for enhancing connectivity in Southeast Asia.

Tain, the giant version and regional network of Southeast Asia, is mentioned to have started in the 80s, while the cable CAE-1 began in the middle 90s. These historical facts are mentioned neutrally.

Research and educational networks contribute a small percentage, around 5-10%, of the total installation costs of cables like NordNet. It is mentioned that it is possible, though not easy, to raise funds for research and education to cover 5% of the entire cable installation costs. This argument has a neutral sentiment and highlights the contribution of research and educational networks.

Once installed, the research and educational community will occupy about 5% of the capacity on the fiber pair. This positive sentiment argument emphasizes the usage of fiber capacity by the research and educational community.

The EU-Japan Digital Partnership Agreement endorses the project and extends the scope of people involved. It also promotes the benefits of investing in optical fiber to various industries. This argument has a positive sentiment and supports the importance of partnerships and endorsements for the project's success.

Jun Murai believes that the special approach taken by the research and education community in actively initiating the project and inviting other stakeholders to get involved is unique and has not been done in the past. This positive sentiment argument emphasizes the importance of the research and education community's active involvement.

Japan's high frequency of earthquakes is mentioned in discussions related to the smart cable concept, which involves piggybacking sensors on commercial communication cables. It is argued that this concept is not enough for Japan due to the frequency of earthquakes, resulting in a negative sentiment.

Investment for the specific installation of sensor cables at the bottom of the ocean, identified as a dangerous area due to earthquakes, is seen as necessary for earthquake preparedness. It is argued that this investment can help in preparing for future catastrophes. This argument has a positive sentiment and supports the importance of investing in sensor cables for earthquake preparedness.

Japan has different funding sources for commercial companies, research, education, and seismic operations due to the frequency of earthquakes. This positive sentiment argument highlights the unique funding decision-making in Japan influenced by the frequency of earthquakes.

In conclusion, the discussions highlight the importance of infrastructure, technology, and funding in the Asia-Pacific region. Projects like WIDE and ARINAPAC aim to improve internet infrastructure and create supportive networks. There is a need for a large funding body to support submarine cable installation, similar to the EU and US. Collaboration and in-kind contributions are seen as important for future networking progress. Jun Murai emphasizes the importance of connectivity in Southeast Asia and the significance of collaboration between the EU and JAN. Additionally, the importance of investment in sensor cables for earthquake preparedness in Japan is emphasized. The discussions also highlight the different funding sources in Japan due to the frequency of earthquakes.

Audience

During a discussion, an audience member raised a question regarding the cost comparison between transferring energy and transferring data. This query sparked interest and highlighted the importance of understanding the financial implications of such processes.

In another point of discussion, the topic of installing cables in icy regions was explored. It was revealed that this project would be costly and resource-intensive, potentially requiring the commissioning of a new icebreaker. The task was considered a significant challenge, particularly when attempting to accomplish it without the assistance of immigrants alone. It became evident that substantial resources and funding would be required to successfully carry out the installation.

The need for government endorsements and funding emerged as a key aspect of the project. Participants agreed that financial support from the government would help alleviate the cost burden associated with the installation of cables. Furthermore, the issue of financial viability and return on investment was raised, reinforcing the importance of government involvement in this initiative.

Collaboration between various regions, namely Nordic, European, and Asian countries, was identified as a potential solution to facilitate the project's progress. It was suggested that a common understanding and agreement on funding the project among these regions could lead to more efficient and effective implementation.

Switching gears, the discussion turned to the business case for the ability to predict natural disasters such as tsunamis and earthquakes. The potential benefits of accurate predictions were highlighted, including the reduction of costs associated with disaster recovery. In addition, it was pointed out that companies like Google and British Telecom were already testing predictive technologies, which could open up new revenue streams. This observation emphasized the need for companies to explore and capitalize on the opportunities presented by disaster prediction services.

In conclusion, the discussion covered various aspects related to the costs, resources, and collaborative efforts required for projects involving transferring energy and data, installing cables in icy regions, securing government endorsements and funding, and exploring the potential of disaster prediction services. The importance of government support, collaboration between different regions, and seizing new revenue streams were emphasized as crucial factors for the success of these initiatives.

Ieva Muraskiene

Submarine cables across the Arctic have the potential to revolutionise connectivity between Europe and Asia by offering a faster, more reliable, and geopolitically stable connection. Currently, 90% of direct traffic between the two continents goes through the congested Suez Canal, but the Arctic route presents a shorter distance and can avoid geopolitical complications by passing through the exclusive economic zones of Norway, Denmark, Canada, the US, and Japan. This alternative route has the potential to alleviate congestion and improve data transfer efficiency.

Additionally, the analysis highlights the potential for submarine cables in the Arctic to support the green data centre industry. The abundant surplus of renewable energy in the far north is currently underutilised due to a lack of power infrastructure. By leveraging submarine cables, this excess energy can be effectively harnessed to power data centres. Data transfer is more efficient and cost-effective than moving energy, and the cool climate in the northern regions can assist in dissipating the heat generated by data centres, reducing energy consumption and environmental impact.

To realise the vision of Arctic connectivity by 2030, two potential projects are identified: PolarConnect and Far North Fiber. Expected to be operational by 2030, these projects would establish reliable submarine cable connections in the Arctic. PolarConnect spans a total distance of 11,000 kilometres, while Far North Fiber covers 14,500 kilometres. These projects hold the potential to unlock the vast benefits of Arctic connectivity and bridge the digital divide.

In addition to enhancing connectivity, submarine cables equipped with sensors can also serve as powerful scientific instruments. These cables can be utilised for distributed acoustic sensing or state of polarization technology, allowing them to collect valuable data for monitoring Earth's conditions, marine life, and seismic research. The ability to measure temperature, pressure, velocity, and salinity provides valuable insights into climate change and oceanic processes. Furthermore, the sensors can aid in the protection and monitoring of the cables themselves.

The analysis also touches on the cost disparities between transferring energy and data. The report acknowledges that the lack of infrastructure largely contributes to the cost difference. However, it emphasises the need for further exploration of the value proposition of energy versus data transfer. This information would provide valuable insights for decision-makers and assist in the development of infrastructure to support both energy and data transfer.

Engagement with governments and the European Commission is considered essential to secure funding and support for these projects. The Nordic countries, in particular, are recommended to communicate with their respective governments to obtain the necessary endorsements and support. The European Commission can also play a crucial role in exploring funding opportunities for these projects, aligning with SDG 17, which emphasises partnerships for attaining goals.

It is worth noting that the potential of submarine cables in the Arctic extends beyond mere connectivity. The analysis highlights multiple use cases and benefits across various sectors, including research, education, and the commercial sector. The project can contribute to early warnings for natural disasters and seismic activity, providing valuable information for scientific research and supporting SDGs 9 and 13.

In conclusion, the analysis showcases the immense potential of submarine cables across the Arctic. These cables offer a faster, more reliable, and geopolitically stable connection between Europe and Asia, bypassing congested areas like the Suez Canal. They not only facilitate efficient data transfer but also support the green data centre industry by utilising excess renewable energy and managing the heat generated by data centres. The PolarConnect and Far North Fiber projects are anticipated to realise the vision of Arctic connectivity by 2030. Furthermore, submarine cables equipped with sensors have the potential to serve as scientific instruments, collecting valuable data for observing the Earth, marine life, and seismic research. Engagement with governments and the European Commission is crucial for securing funding and support for these projects. The potential of submarine cables in the Arctic extends beyond connectivity, offering multiple benefits and use cases across different sectors.

Dr. Masafumi Oe

The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAO-J) operates astronomical facilities globally that rely on large volumes of data for research and analysis. To support this need, high-bandwidth networks are essential. The Subaru Telescope, which was established in 1999, has recently undergone system upgrades, including the addition of the hyperspring cam. As a result, the telescope's data can now be efficiently transferred to Tokyo for analysis through a 100 gigabit Ethernet network, improving data transfer capabilities.

In addition, the ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) project is currently upgrading its network infrastructure to a 1.2 terabit capacity. This upgrade will enable synchronous data transfer from all ALMA receivers, enhancing overall data transfer capabilities for the project. Dr. Masafumi Oe supports these network improvements for big science astronomy facilities, as it allows them to meet the demands of modern research effectively.

One significant outcome of these network upgrades is the reduction in data analysis time. With the upgraded network, the Subaru Telescope can now analyze data in under 10 minutes, demonstrating the positive impact of enhanced network capacities on research efficiency. Additionally, the 1.2 terabit network infrastructure upgrade for the ALMA project promises improved efficiency and reliability in astronomical research through enhanced data transfer capabilities.

The evidence strongly supports the argument that high-bandwidth networks are crucial for the advancement of modern astronomical research. The notable achievements of the Subaru Telescope and the ongoing network upgrade for the ALMA project highlight the benefits that improved network capacities bring to big science astronomy facilities. The positive sentiment surrounding these advancements, along with Dr. Masafumi Oe's endorsement, further emphasizes the importance of upgrading network capacities for the progression of astronomical research.

Overall, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan operates astronomical facilities globally that heavily rely on large datasets, making high-bandwidth networks essential. The upgrades made to the Subaru Telescope's data transfer capabilities and the ongoing network upgrade for the ALMA project underscore the significance of improving network capacities for modern astronomical research. The reduction in data analysis time and the endorsement of Dr. Masafumi Oe enhance the overall efficiency and progress of big science astronomy facilities. These advancements contribute to the overall efficiency and progress of astronomical research.

Paul Rouse

The analysis explores the role of submarine cables in supporting research and education, highlighting that 98-99% of global internet traffic is transmitted through these cables. They not only facilitate data transmission but also offer physical solutions to the increasingly politicized internet, benefiting research and education. The agreements between research and education networks at national and regional levels, based on trust and reciprocity, form the foundation for submarine cable usage in this context.

However, concerns arise regarding the changing ownership and utilization of submarine cable infrastructure. Content providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook are increasingly acquiring a larger share of the market, potentially reducing available capacity. This poses a risk in meeting the demands of research and education missions adequately.

To address these challenges and ensure critical infrastructure availability, proactive measures and investment in submarine systems are essential. Recent collaborations serve as examples, such as Géant partnering with the European Investment Bank and DG NIR from the European Commission to invest in the Medusa submarine cable system in the Mediterranean Sea, improving connectivity for North African countries. Additionally, Red Clara collaborated with Géant and received funding from the European Commission to invest in a new submarine cable connecting Europe to Latin America.

The analysis acknowledges the Bella project as a trailblazer amongst National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) worldwide. The project encountered various hurdles, including limited experience in submarine cable investments initially and economic difficulties, particularly in Brazil. Nonetheless, it emphasized the significance of stakeholder engagement, compliance, governance, and financial requirements in realizing successful submarine cable projects.

Collaboration and partnership emerge as recurring themes throughout the analysis. NRENs alone cannot deliver the necessary infrastructure and support; collaboration with commercial partners is crucial. The analysis suggests that NRENs are desirable partners due to their capacity to mitigate risks using public funds.

In conclusion, the analysis underscores the importance of submarine cables in supporting research and education. While concerns exist regarding changing ownership and utilization, proactive measures, investment, collaboration, and partnerships are crucial to secure critical infrastructure. The Bella and Medusa projects serve as successful collaboration examples, reflecting the value of government support, funding bodies, user communities, and the skills within NRENs. Moving forward, fostering collaboration and partnerships between NRENs and other entities will be instrumental in ensuring continuous growth and success in research and education pursuits.

Keiko Okawa

Two speakers in Asia highlight the crucial role of internet connectivity in promoting educational and research collaboration in the region. The first speaker stresses the necessity of internet access for internet engineers, as it not only supports sustainable development but also enhances collaboration among professionals in the field. They propose the implementation of an Asia-wide educational programme for internet engineers, which would ensure that they have the necessary education and connectivity to contribute effectively to the region's progress.

The second speaker focuses on the long history of collaboration among universities in Asia, which has been facilitated by internet connectivity. They highlight the 'Asia Internet Interconnection Initiative', which was launched in 1996 with the aim of connecting universities across the region. This initiative has played a vital role in fostering knowledge sharing and learning among academic institutions. Furthermore, the establishment of the 'School of the Internet' in 2001 has further contributed to the exchange of ideas and information among universities in Asia.

Both speakers emphasise the positive impact of internet connectivity on education and partnership building in Asia. They highlight the importance of enabling access to high-speed internet for educational institutions, as it plays a crucial role in connecting these institutions and facilitating research activities. The first speaker mentions that Asia university partners are excited about the new high-speed network, showing the enthusiasm and support for such initiatives.

Furthermore, evidence of internet connectivity's impact is demonstrated by the fact that as of 2019, almost 60% of the population in Asia was connected. This wide access to the internet has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of educational and collaborative networks across the region.

In conclusion, internet connectivity in Asia is recognised as a fundamental force driving educational and research collaboration. By providing internet access to internet engineers and enabling universities to connect and share knowledge, sustainable development and partnership building in the region can be greatly enhanced. The examples of initiatives like the 'Asia Internet Interconnection Initiative' and the 'School of the Internet' demonstrate the long-standing commitment to collaboration and shared learning among universities in Asia. With the continued efforts to expand and improve internet connectivity, the potential for educational and research collaboration in Asia is immense.

Speakers

A

Audience

Speech speed

165 words per minute

Speech length

421 words

Speech time

153 secs

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DM

Dr. Masafumi Oe

Speech speed

133 words per minute

Speech length

1002 words

Speech time

453 secs

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HI

Hendrik Ike

Speech speed

140 words per minute

Speech length

1549 words

Speech time

664 secs

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IM

Ieva Muraskiene

Speech speed

152 words per minute

Speech length

3132 words

Speech time

1235 secs

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JM

Jun Murai

Speech speed

137 words per minute

Speech length

2878 words

Speech time

1258 secs

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KO

Keiko Okawa

Speech speed

137 words per minute

Speech length

832 words

Speech time

365 secs

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PR

Paul Rouse

Speech speed

165 words per minute

Speech length

2596 words

Speech time

943 secs

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