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Nokia offers solution to Irish government's undersea cable security issues

02. 10. 2023 Monday / By: Robert Denes / Industrial / Exact time: BST / Print this page

S everal executives from communications company Nokia are traveling to Ireland to meet government, defense force and Garda officials in the coming weeks to discuss what they say is a revolutionary system to protect vulnerable undersea cables.

The Journal spoke to Nokia experts at a recent NATO-sponsored event in Portugal, who said they have found a new way to monitor for signs of potential attacks on cables near the Irish coast. A number of undersea telecommunications cables pass through Irish waters and lead into the Atlantic Ocean to both the United States and Europe. A number of gas and electricity pipelines also run into Ireland.

NATO General Hans-Werner Wiermann - head of the coordination of vital undersea infrastructure - said the unusual ship traffic near the cables in European and Irish waters showed the possibility of mapping the activities.

The Nord Stream cable sabotage case has prompted European and NATO officials to develop a strategy to prevent future attacks.

A recent exercise observed by The Journal was a major military mobilization held in coastal towns an hour south of Lisbon, where the navies of NATO and partner nations gathered to test new technologies such as undersea and aerial drones and cable and pipeline surveillance. equipment. REPMUS, or Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping with Marine Unmanned Systems, is a Portuguese-led project dedicated to the development of new technology, especially for the Navy. A second event, Dynamic Messenger, is also running concurrently during the event, with scientists working with military personnel to test new undersea equipment.

REPMUS is essentially about experimenting with craft, and Dynamic Messenger is about putting it into practice in a scenario-based assessment. There are also exhibitions where companies can meet prospective people. The exercise has been held since 2004 at a purpose-built Portuguese naval drone testing base on the beautiful sandy beaches of Troia Bay. Near and around the headland is the seaside resort town of Sesimbra (a continental cross between Tramore and Kinsale in size and design). This exercise is the landing point for Atlantis Two and the Sat-3/WASC undersea cables. In several locations, drone manufacturers, scientists, and Portuguese and Spanish naval vessels conducted experiments with a fake submarine cable on the seabed. Undersea cables contain fiber optics – meaning they use light to send messages. Nokia has come up with an invention that monitors the fluctuations of light passing through cables. These fluctuations can be measured to determine if the cable is in trouble not only from saboteurs, but also from seismic events.

"These discussions are ongoing, we will meet with the Irish in October," said a Nokia expert in Portugal, who did not want to be identified.

“We're introducing them to this technology and meeting a variety of people and getting an idea of what Ireland needs and then working out what they need.

“We can show them the system – get an existing cable and have that system installed in a few days, so if they choose that system, we can do it relatively quickly,” they said.

They explained how the system works - monitoring using light traveling down the cable.

“It's an existing seabed cable, looking at the deformation of the cable. The light goes down the fiber optic cable and every time the cable is deformed in some way, it creates a little mirror and sends light back.

“We can then use different factors to work back to where it happened, if we see where the pressure has increased.

"A lot of information can be used to predict the pressure wave l," they explained.

According to the Nokia expert, due to the vast area covered by undersea cables, it is impossible for ships and aircraft to monitor the entire length of the cables.

“This is real-time data and no longer relies on sonar and other forms of detection.

“It uses existing infrastructure and can be flexible with it – it doesn't provide all the answers, but it can be a series of answers that can make the environment more data-rich,” he said.

Nokia declined to provide details on the price of the device as it is commercially sensitive. NATO had a large contingent at the event, and it was clear in discussions and interviews conducted by The Journal that they are moving forward with drone technology to protect cables. The Irish Maritime Service was present at the event, but only participated in REPMUS. The team participated as part of the NATO Partnership for Peace initiative, which invites partner countries to events. The event saw naval divers working with other nations to study the effectiveness of underwater drones used by the Irish Navy in search and rescue operations.

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