IGF 2023 Town Hall #80 How Submarine Cables Enhance Digital Collaboration

Monday, 9th October, 2023 (23:45 UTC) - Tuesday, 10th October, 2023 (01:15 UTC)
WS 7 – Room K

Cyber Diplomacy and Peace on the Internet
Harmonising Global Digital Infrastructure

Birds of a Feather - 90 Min


Global cooperation in the field of submarine cables is an essential element of both internet governance and diplomacy. Research & Educational activity is fuelling demands to support investments in submarine systems – in remote areas as well as in more traditional routes. The changing profile of the ownership/utilisation of the internet is noted and the public interest role of R&E can be seen to be significant enough as a conduit to ensure a retention of an open, resilient and distributed internet structure. Submarine cable agreements between National and Regional Research Education Networks (NRENs / RENs), based on the common values of trust and reciprocity, allow public entities to not just share and disseminate public research and educational data, but innovate solutions and services to bolster scientific advancement. With this, of course, comes both economic growth and drivers of sustainability. Submarine cables also provide physical geopolitical solutions to an increasingly politicised internet, for the good public R&E. This includes options for Network redundancy – the process of providing multiple paths for traffic, so that data can keep flowing even in the event of a failure. How such submarine cables contribute to scientific advancement, economic growth, and to the sustainable development goals, under the technical layer of an integrated internet infrastructure, will all be covered in this session. Case studies of such current and future submarine systems to be highlighted will be Polar Connect (A Northern European initiative to obtain secure and resilient connectivity through the Arctic to Asia and North America for Research, Development, Innovation and Education), BELLA II (The Europe Link to Latin America and the Caribbean, BELLA II is a regional initiative that aims to reduce the digital divide and support the development of the necessary infrastructure to consolidate and expand a digital ecosystem of science, technology, education, and innovation) and such as MEDUSA (the submarine cable system the Mediterranean region) and GN5-IC1 (An international connectivity upgrade that aims to extend and secure the global reach of the GÉANT network by replacing and updating existing intercontinental connectivity infrastructure). The session will host key speakers from WIDE (A global research consortium established in 1985, involving both academia and industry related to the Internet technology, standard and society, based in Japan. WIDE is responsible for global core research and education network operation, such as ARENA-PAC.), NORDUnet (An international collaboration between the National Research and Education Networks in the Nordic countries) and GÉANT (The association representing collaboration between European National Research and Education Networks (NRENs)), who will focus on the key aforementioned themes in three sections. After each presentation, there will be interactive discussion both between panelists and attendees of the session. The key aim of this session is to bring awareness to the wider IGF community and institutions connected to it of the work done by NRENs / RENs in this area in the public field. A report on the session will be made available to all IGF participants following the event.

1) We will use links between the online and onsite moderators, who both work for the same organisation. We have messaging systems. 2) We will monitor the chat and the online moderator will flag these to the onsite moderator. 3) We presume zoom will be the VC system of choice. We will use slack for internal comms.


WIDE - Jun Murai & Keiko Okawa. NORDUnet - Ieva Muraskiene GÉANT - Paul Rouse, Hendrik Ike (Rapporteur), Dr. Masafumi Oe, The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ)


WIDE - Jun Murai & Keiko Okawa NORDUnet - Ieva Muraškienė (Moderator) GÉANT - Paul Rouse, Hendrik Ike (Rapporteur & Online Moderator) & Dr. Masafumi Oe, The National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) .

Onsite Moderator

Hendrik Ike

Online Moderator

Hendrik Ike


Hendrik Ike


4. Quality Education
9. Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
17. Partnerships for the Goals

Targets: For 4: GÉANT’s flagship Trust & Identity services, such as eduroam, eduGAIN and eduTEAMS assist students worldwide. With more than 10,000 eduroam hotspots available at universities, research centres, academies, many schools, and other research and education institutions in more than 100 territories around the world, eduroam is growing to more and more hotspots globally, including additional places such as libraries, museums and public spaces. The eduroam WiFi roaming service provides seamless internet activity to researchers and students and is free-of-charge to users. eduGAIN enables students to follow courses at universities other than their own using their existing credentials, and eduTEAMS enables research communities to securely access and share common resources and services. openUp2U is an open-source, interoperable and GDPR compliant platform based on the Up2U project and now available to all European schools and university from March 2020 facilitating remote learning and educational during the COVID-19 pandemic. For 9: GÉANT’s role in Europe is unique. By interconnecting Europe’s National Research and Education Networks (NRENs) it brings Europe’s brightest minds together to collaborate virtually and accelerate research, drive innovation and enrich education. By also fostering this mindset with international partners, GÉANT directly and indirectly contributes to the global science economy worldwide. The network that GÉANT operates is also projected to be more deeply situated at the intersection of European industry, innovation and infrastructure in the future. This can be seen in agreements to provide the backbone capacity between Europe’s future High-Performance Computing (HPC) centres, as well as future connectivity to ITER, the world’s largest nuclear fusion project being constructed by the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission in Southern France. GÉANT and its Members already connect and support research infrastructures that have a global reach, such as CERN, the European research organisation that operates the largest particle physics laboratory in the world. For 17: GÉANT has been a trusted partner of the European Commission (EC) for many years, as the coordinator of network projects co-funded by the European Union (EU) and NREN organisations in Europe, and by those in other world regions. Within such partnerships, GÉANT has planned, procured and implemented networks in Europe and around the world, and led collaborative innovation, federated service delivery, and support for knowledge-sharing, to the research and education community. GÉANT’s global partnerships and projects include the AfricaConnect and CAREN projects with DG DEVCO, and EaPConnect and EUMEDCONNECT projects with DG NEAR respectively. These projects help bridge the digital divide across different territorial regions. The GÉANT project itself is a truly pan-European collaboration between 39 partners, including 37 European NRENs, NORDUnet (representing five Nordic countries) and the GÉANT Association itself.

Key Takeaways (* deadline 2 hours after session)

1) Submarine Cables act in themselves as research infrastructures, that act as sensory networks to pick up information from the sea bed, such as temperature data and audio data.

2) Submarine Cables can serve as a diplomatic tool to enhance collaboration between regions of the world.

Call to Action (* deadline 2 hours after session)

The i) EC and ii) Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, who signed the Memorandum of Cooperation to support secure and resilient submarine cable connectivity must develop the Indicative joint support actions in the document swiftly.

2) The role of the public sector NRENs / RENs can be as a conduit between Governments, Funding Agencies and the Commercial sector, whilst defending the interests of R&E. National governments should be made aware of this ability.