Landmark subsea cable connecting Ireland and Iceland now complete

11 Nov 2022

Farice CEO Þorvarður Sveinsson, Ambassador of Iceland Sturla Sigurjónsson, and Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan holding a piece of fibre optic cable. Image: Andrew Downes/Xposure

Iris, which is managed by the Icelandic government, is expected to be in service by the first quarter of 2023.

A subsea cable linking Iceland and the rest of Northern Europe through Ireland has finally been installed in what is being described as a “landmark” moment in the history of Irish communications.

Iris, a new high-speed subsea cable system that spans approximately 1,700km in length and connects Galway to Iceland, is now complete and marks the first direct connection between the two countries.

It is deployed and maintained by Farice, a telecommunications service company owned by the Icelandic government that already runs two other subsea cables from Iceland to Scotland and Denmark.

Poised to greatly increase capacity and diversity of internet connections to Ireland, Iris runs between Galway Bay and Thorlakshofn on the south coast of Iceland – a location chosen because of its proximity to both Reykjavik and the country’s growing data centre industry.

Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications Eamon Ryan, TD, said at the cable landing ceremony on Ballyloughnane beach in Galway that Iris will provide “the essential factors needed by businesses” to compete globally and attract investment.

“It’s part of the new industrial revolution – one that combines high quality, digital infrastructure with renewable technology, infrastructure and skills, helping to ensure that Ireland stays ahead of both the digital and climate curves and maintains its competitive advantage as a clean, innovative, secure and open economy.”

Now that construction and installation is complete, Iris is expected to be ready for service in the first quarter of 2023.

Ireland ‘open for business’ to more cables

Minister of State Ossian Smyth, who is responsible for communications, noted at the event that Ireland has been “an intercontinental communications hub” since the first transatlantic cable linking London and New York was routed through Ireland in 1858.

“Today is a landmark in the history of Irish communications. Ireland is now open for business to further subsea cables,” he said.

“These new connections will increase resilience and reduce latency. They provide the infrastructure needed for the hundreds of thousands of people employed in Ireland in the ICT and pharmaceutical sectors.”

The completion of Iris is also a significant day for the west of Ireland. Farice CEO Þorvarður Sveinsson told in July that Galway was selected as the entry point to Ireland for several reasons.

“Geographically, it is accessible to Iceland, while the local waters are relatively calm, which means it’s a stable and secure option to bring a cable ashore on the Irish coast,” he said.

“The area also has established secure terrestrial connectivity options, linking it to Dublin, which is in turn a major network hub in Europe. Its existing network density made it a very attractive location.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic