Baltic Highway opens for business

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A new fibre-optic network could provide the fastest route for data travelling between Eastern and Western Europe.

Officially launched on 21 January, the Baltic Highway is billed as an alternative high-capacity route for connecting Northern Europe’s new mega data centres to Western Europe.

The 3000-km-long network connects Tallinn in Estonia with Frankfurt in Germany via Riga (Latvia), Vilnius (Lithuania), Warsaw (Poland) and Berlin (Germany). Onward connections to Saint Petersburg in Russia via 100G and Belarus via 10G links are also possible.

Five years under development, the network boasts 35ms latency from end to end, capacity of 100G per channel and 9.6 Tb/s of total throughput, according to Data Logistics Center, one of the three partners in the project.

"Baltic Highway is like a freeway to Frankfurt, only without crossings and border control," said Juozas Rumbutis, head of the sales department at Data Logistics Center.

"This network is highly relevant to big data operators as well as finance institutions and banks, which consider fast data exchange important. It is important to the mega data centres of Microsoft, Google, and Yandex, established in Finland - up to this day they used to employ 10G data transfer networks," he added.

Data Logistics Center is part of Lietuvos Energija, the state-owned holding company for Lithuanian energy suppliers. The other partners in the Baltic Highway project are Latvenergo, a state-owned electric utility company in Latvia, and Televõrk, a subsidiary of private energy firm Eesti Energia in Estonia.

The partners claim that Baltic Highway is the first and the only seamless network across the region. Rather than using different segments of operator networks that have been stitched together, the network uses the infrastructure from a single provider.

Baltic Highway has been built using optical fibre laid over high-voltage electricity lines and gas pipelines belonging to the energy companies involved. This may give the network an advantage in terms of reliability: utility infrastructure is usually better protected from being accidentally dug up by construction work, which is the main cause of cable breaks.

The network cost was put at “more than €1.5 million”.


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