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The scope of the project is to do an assessment of demands for and offers of communication services in the Arctic region in the 2015-2020 time frame. The assessment will include a number of market sectors such as shipping, mining, oil and gas exploration, fisheries and others, and geostationary and non-geostationary satellite communication systems as well as terrestrial communication systems. The study will lead to identification of gaps between demands and offers per geographical areas and per service category. The project will conclude by proposing ways forward to limit these gaps.

The objectives of the project are as follows:

  • To obtain a picture of the current status and common practices for communications in the Arctic region,
  • To predict the demands for communication services and the requirements to communication systems covering the Arctic regions in the time frame 2015-2020,
  • To predict the coverage, capacity and services to be provided by communication systems currently planned, under development and in operation in the time frame 2015-2020,
  • To present the results using Google Earth and overlays,
  • To identify future gaps in communication coverage,
  • To propose ways forward to avoid the identified future gaps between demands and offers.

The main challenges in this study can be summarised as follows:

  • Based on interviews and desk research, the future demand for communication capacity in different regions of the Arctic is estimated. The two main regions covered are the Polar cap above 75°N, and the area between 66°N and 75°N, and . These are approximations of the Arctic areas outside geostationary coverage and within geostationary coverage. These areas are further divided into a European part, a Russian part, and a North-American part.
  • Based on our current knowledge of existing and planned communication systems covering the Arctic, the future capacity of satellite systems within each of the sub-areas is estimated.
  • The estimated future demands and the estimated future capacity are then compared in order to identify potential future gaps.
  • Finally, recommendations for future work are made in order to reduce or eliminate the identified gaps between future demand and offers.

The benefits of the project will be to provide ESA, the European Union and other relevant national and international authorities with information regarding future demands and needs for communication services in the Arctic region.


No system will be developed.


The project started 6 October 2010 and will be finalised in November 2011. Main results of the project will be presented at the ARTES-1 Presentation Days at ESTEC 12-13 December 2011.

Current status

The main conclusions of the gap analysis can be summarised as follows:

  • For areas within geostationary coverage, the total capacity offered will exceed the total demand in the Arctic for all regions. The geostationary satellites do however also cover areas further to the south so that only parts of the total capacity will be consummated by users in the Arctic. Assuming that 10-15% of the total capacity is consumed by Arctic users, gaps between demand and offers may occur in 2015-2020.
  • For areas outside geostationary coverage, PCW will according to current plans provide broadband coverage over the Canadian part of the Arctic from 2017. In Russia, PolarStar and Arktika are planned to provide broadband coverage from about the same time. Currently, no system is planned to provide broadband coverage over the European part of the Arctic.

The main challenge related to future satellite communication in the Arctic is hence to avoid the lack of broadband coverage over the European part of the Arctic which is outside coverage of geostationary satellites. Recommendations of future work to meet this challenge are provided in the last technical note of the project (TN6) and in the final report.


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