We speak to Thorvardur Sveinsson, CEO of Farice, about the developments of the telecommunications industry and the company’s prime position in the European market.
THE KEY TO CONNECTING EUROPE
Nowadays, it seems that the transference of data is what truly makes the world go round. As the lifeblood of digital global development, telecommunications (telecoms) is becoming more integral every day.
As an industry, telecoms has become the epitome of modernity with the advancement of surrounding technology.
“The industry has matured a lot over the past 30 years. We have seen the introduction of low bandwidth connections and simple voice-only handsets develop quickly into high-capacity connections to houses, businesses and handsets. We now expect to always be connected with a high-capacity network,” introduces Thorvardur Sveinsson, CEO of Farice.
“The interplay and co-development of telecoms and information technology (IT) has resulted in the rapid advancement of cloud services, which have transformed the way we live even further. In essence, cloud services are IT applications that run in data centres all over the world and are connected via high-capacity telecoms fibre links. We commonly refer to this connectivity as the internet.”
The simple transportation of the internet is facilitated by submarine cables that connect countries and continents together, with 99 percent of internet traffic travelling beneath the ocean.
Significantly, Farice is state-owned by the Icelandic government, bringing to light the company’s strategic importance as a hub for international connectivity. As a result, Farice offers its customers high-capacity data transmission services from key network hubs in Iceland to major network hubs in Europe. This is achieved through an extensive network of both its own submarine cables and the terrestrial cables of local partners in neighbouring regions.
“The nature of our business is to be a carrier’s carrier – that is, we sell our services primarily to carriers. Our customers are telecoms companies in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland, as well as international data centre customers hosting their IT applications in Icelandic data centres,” Sveinsson tells us.
Farice is a critical operator of telecoms infrastructure in the northwest Atlantic as the only operator of submarine cables between Iceland and Europe, which are separated by 1,500 kilometres (km) of open North Atlantic waters, giving the company a unique position in the industry.
The company operates in a small home market of 380,000 people that live an ultra-modern and digitally driven lifestyle. The cost of building and operating submarine cables has been a challenge for other operators to enter the market.
The company works with data centre partners by providing connectivity to international customers of Icelandic data centres. However, Farice is in indirect competition with other connectivity providers in the Nordic region.
Furthermore, the company recognises its responsibility as a sole provider in the country.
“We design our network for security and resilience as it is essential infrastructure for Iceland. International customers gain from the quality of the network design and operational stability.
“We also benefit from a long history of the successful operation of submarine cables in the North Atlantic,” Sveinsson comments.
When looking at Iceland’s geographical location more closely, the island is ideally positioned to be an indispensable connection hub for Greenland. As one of Greenland’s two submarine cables lands in Iceland, Farice carries the traffic onwards to Europe.
Regarding the Faroe Islands, located to the west of Iceland, the FARICE-1 cable is one of two submarine cables that connects the Faroe Islands with the rest of the world. Thus, with just a few examples, it is easy to see how the importance of the submarine cable sector is growing in correlation with the rapid development of the data centre industry in Iceland.
An additional pillar of the company’s success is certainly its employees, who stand as experts in the field of submarine fibre engineering. The employees can comprehensively work with cable manufacturing to design a cable system for optimum performance, using the safest and most secure cable route.
“In the North Atlantic, where we sometimes have harsh weather conditions as well as a large fisheries industry, which is very important, we are very proud of that fact that we have never had any underwater faults on our submarine systems,” Sveinsson affirms.
PASSION FOR COMMUNICATION
Most recently, Farice is enjoying the success of its newest submarine fibre cable, known as IRIS, after four years in development. In service since the 1st March, the IRIS cable system lies between southwest Iceland and Galway on the west coast of Ireland. From Galway, the company connects to a key network hub in Dublin via a highly secure terrestrial fibre.
“The IRIS system is our third submarine cable system that will add diversity and dependency to our international network and bring even further security to our operation. As the main purpose of the project was to further strengthen the security of international connectivity between Iceland and Europe, we settle the cable at a new landing site in Iceland and the marine route of the new cable does not cross any of the existing cables coming into the country.
“With Iceland’s digital cloud infrastructure to a large extent operating in the cloud environment from European data centres, the importance of secure connectivity cannot be understated. We also believe that the system will support Europe’s digital drive towards sustainability with the offloading of digital processing to data centres in Iceland,” Sveinsson proudly details.
In conjunction with the advancements of the IRIS system, a project currently in development connects Ireland and Finland to Japan via the Arctic. Additionally, there are also interesting transatlantic projects that could be of great potential for the company and the connectivity of Iceland. Farice closely follows the Icelandic telecoms market and evaluates the need for potential added capacity that would require further development between Iceland and Europe.
“Developing new submarine systems takes a long time, and the systems are costly, so good and careful preparation is needed before new projects are initiated,” he states.
Overall, Farice is the vital piece of the puzzle in connecting Europe and ensuring safe passage amongst the continent. With strategic partnerships and an eye for expanding the potential of cables, Farice is the backbone of the European telecoms industry and beyond.