For Norway, the changing strategic environment includes not only an expansion of the Russian tool set to challenge Norwegian and European security, but the clear inclusion of the Arctic and its evolving role in North Atlantic defense and security,
We have focused on this evolution over the past few years and most recently highlighted the evolving strategic environment in a series of special reports. Recently, in a press release by the Norwegian government dated March 23, 2018 underscored the requirement to expand digital coverage in the High North.
Today, broadband coverage in the High North is poor and unstable. The Government now wants Norwegian satellites to make broadband communications available in the Arctic.
“Fast, stable internet is important to anyone operating in the High North, whether in shipping, defence, fisheries or research,” says Minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (Conservative Party).
Space Norway AS has been working to establish satellite-based broadband communications capacity in the High North since 2015. Space Norway’s project is based on a system of two satellites providing coverage 24 hours a day in the area north of 65 degrees N latitude. The expected lifespan of the satellites is 15 years. If all goes according to plan, the satellites will be launched in 2022.
For negotiations to proceed with customers, suppliers and banks, the company needs a promise that the Norwegian state will contribute, in its capacity as owner, about NOK 1 billion in equity capital if the company manages to negotiate good agreements.
The Government is therefore proposing a conditional pledge to Space Norway AS of about NOK 1 billion in equity capital to realise this project. This means the state will contribute equity if Space Norway lands agreements ensuring, among other things, the project’s commercial profitability. In addition, the customers must bear market risk by securing project income across the lifespan of the satellites.
“Space Norway AS’s project represents an exciting opportunity to meet society’s needs for broadband communications at low cost to the state. A solid communications system will also facilitate increased value creation in the High North,” says Røe Isaksen.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Conservative Party) added: “The High North is Norway’s most important strategic area of responsibility. It is quite natural that we take a leading role in establishing better communications in the region.”
Poor coverage in the High North makes it harder for the authorities to carry out security and emergency services such as search and rescue at sea, oil spill protection and crisis management. Not least, the Armed Forces requires stable and secure communications for operations in Norwegian waters.
“Space Norway’s project is important to the Norwegian Armed Forces, and can also serve the needs of our allies,” says Minister of Defence Frank Bakke-Jensen (Conservative Party).