Nikolai Nikiforov, Russia’s Minister for Communications and Mass Media, has signed an agreement with Vladimir Pechyony, the acting governor of the Far East’s Magadan Region, to resume construction of a 2,000km fibre-optic submarine link between Magadan, the Kamchatka Peninsula, and Sakhalin Island; the cable will traverse the Okhotsk Sea.
Previously, in May 2012 national operator Rostelecom joined forces with the self-styled ‘Big Three’ mobile operators – Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), MegaFon, and Vimpelcom – to sign an agreement to deploy the aforementioned submarine link. However, construction on the project was halted when MegaFon quit the scheme, concerned that its lack of fixed infrastructure in the Far East meant that it would not gain sufficient benefit from its participation. MegaFon’s withdrawal then prompted Vimpelcom to question its own involvement in the project, wary of the higher financial burden. According to Prime-Tass business news agency it now appears that the government has agreed to pick up the funding shortfall, by allocating additional financing; the fibre link could now go live as early as 2014.