North Sea Communications Links Fibre Optical Networks in the North Sea

North Sea Communications AS has made interconnection agreements with both TampNett AS and Central North Sea Fibre Telecommunications Company, thereby linking all companies' fibre optical networks in the North Sea. Telecom traffic is already flowing from TampNett via North Sea Communications (NSC) and CNSFTC to Aberdeen. NSC is also establishing a new node in Houston to serve the oil and gas industry.

More than 1 billion NOK has been invested in the three major optical networks in the North Sea. They are now capable of serving cross-border customers. Since the late 1990s, NSC, TampNett, owned by Statoil, and CNSFTC, owned by BP UK, have each had fibre optical networks installed in the North Sea. NSC has its main link between Stavanger and London, via the oil fields Draupner, Ula, Ekofisk, Valhall and Murdoch. TampNett connects Kollsnes on the Norwegian mainland, with the oil fields Troll, Kvitebjorn, Gullfaks and Snorre, and southwards to the oil fields Oseberg, Heimdal, Grane, Sleipner and Draupner. CNSFTC links Aberdeen, Cruden Bay, Forties and Everest with the Ula platform.

NSC now connects the networks through its nodes at Draupner and Ula. NSC has entered into interconnection agreements with the other optical cable owners enabling traffic to flow between all nodes in the networks.

This enables direct, low-latency communications between offshore facilities and on-shore offices and operation centres, independent of country. Fibre optical communications is becoming more and more important for the offshore operations. Now, a number of installations can be supplied with such end-to-end communications by a single telecom operator, such as one of the three network owners, says Mr Harald Nordstrand, MD of North Sea Communications.

The first user to gain the benefits of the linked networks, a major US oil company, enters TampNett via a microwave system. NSC takes the traffic from Draupner to Ula in its network and then uses the CNSFTC network to terminate the traffic in Aberdeen.

North Sea Communications has measured the latency in their Stavanger-Aberdeen circuit to be less than 4.3 milliseconds, which by far outperforms any land-based link between Norway and the UK.

The integrated optical networks in the North Sea will be very useful for companies operating in several countries and locations, requiring real-time data transmission with low latency over secure networks. That's why we are also establishing a node (PoP) in Houston, using TeliaSonera International Carrier's own optical network from our own node in London.

Many platforms in the North Sea can be linked to the existing optical networks by microwave radio or new optical submarine cables. North Sea Communications will soon present a new technology for laying a thin optical fibre cable between platforms. This will lead to a significant reduction in the investment in new access lines.