Historical archive

Speech at the opening of the fibre cable connection to Svalbard

Historical archive

Published under: Bondevik's 2nd Government

Publisher Ministry of Trade and Industry

Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Ansgar Gabrielsen

Speech at the opening of the fibre cable connection to Svalbard

Longyearbyen, 31 January 2004

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour, and indeed a pleasure, to open the fibre cable to Svalbard.

This is an important event. Not only to the Svalbard community and to Norway, but to a global science community with interests in space and arctic research. You have already heard presentations from the major users, but allow me to underline a few of the most important implications of the cable.

Primarily, the broadband connection will be a huge advantage to those involved in space activities at Svalbard. With the cable we are able to transmit data from polar-orbiting satellites to the end-users in a faster, more reliable and less expensive way than ever before. Svalbard Satellite Station is already becoming the world’s largest ground station for data reception and control of polar-orbiting satellites. I am confident that the high-speed, high-capacity cable will make Svalbard Satellite Station even more attractive.

A second key area is based on Svalbard’s unique position as a centre for international weather data reception. All European weather data from the polar-orbiting satellites of the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites – EUMETSAT - most of the weather data from the satellites of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA - are received here at Svalbard. With the capabilities of the new fibre cable, Svalbard’s importance to weather forecasting activities all over the world is enhanced.

Thirdly, the broadband connection represents a great improvement in the communication with Svalbard, in a broader sense. Public services, business and industry, and the educational and research establishments are now given great new opportunities through broadband connection to the mainland. Certainly, also private households’ demand for broadband services is increasing rapidly. Yes, I believe the Svalbard society at large will profit from this cable.

Today’s activity at Svalbard leaves the cable with unused capacity. That is important, as we expect the activity at Svalbard to increase in the future. The opportunities offered by the cable itself will contribute to such growth in activity. The realisation of the cable will thus have implications for both present and future activities.

At this stage, I would like to convey the Norwegian Government’s appreciation of the efforts made by the following contributors:

  • The Norwegian Space Centre and the Norwegian Space Centre Properties
  • The National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA and the Integrated Program Office
  • Telenor and Telenor Svalbard
  • Tyco Telecommunications
  • Kongsberg Satellite Services, Andøya Rocket Range and Uninett
  • Hannon Armstrong

I would like to thank you, and also everyone else that has contributed.

Finally and importantly, Norway enjoys long-standing good and close relations with the United States. These relations form the basis also for the fibre cable to Svalbard. The activities by NASA and NOAA at Svalbard, and the long-term agreements entered into for the use of the cable were prerequisites for the whole project. The financial arrangements and the laying of the cable were also made possible by US companies. We are glad and proud to have such good friends.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this is a historic moment. I hope you all share my excitement, as I actually connect the new fibre cable to Svalbard. Let the light pulses pass through.

Thank you.