The Most Northerly Human Settlement Has a Broadband Network

Wednesday, April 29th 2009

Ny-Alesund is believed to be the northern most inhabited region of the world. It is one of the settlements of the Spitsbergen island in the Svalbard archipelago, and also a part of the Kingdom of Norway. This settlement which is just 1200 miles below the North Pole, was once a coal mine. It has recently seen the establishment of a research centre, consisting of about 170 scientists and 30 staff members who are local inhabitants.


Ny-Alesund Scientific Research Centre - Broadband SuppliersThe most surprising fact is that this settlement, which is the abode of the polar bears has a full-fledged broadband connection. A range of microwave transceivers have been employed to link this area to Longyearbyan, the largest settlement of Svalbard and also its administrative centre. This settlement is in turn connected to the mainland by means of physical wires. Although fibre optic might not have been used here, it is definitely proof of the existence of an Arctic broadband connection.

The inhabitants of the settlement rely on the broadband for almost all activities. They use the network for things as simple as getting drinking water, which is shipped from Denmark, 2400km from Svalbard. They contact the suppliers through the broadband network to ensure that they have a timely supply.

The essence of the broadband connection becomes more evident as mobile phones or Wi-Fi or even Bluetooth is forbidden in these regions. This is because the large radio transmitter set-ups used for telemetry and satellite communication, are very sensitive and might not perform as expected in this frozen zone. Switching on the mobile phone in these regions or even using mobile broadband can be risky too.

The settlers of the research centre face problems during the winter, when there is total darkness in the region and when temperatures fall below – 400C. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, recently appreciated the hard work put in by the research centre employees and also asserted that the US will undoubtedly help in making up for the lost time in its efforts to take charge of the global climatic change.

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