A map of the Kuril Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk. Source: Wikimedia Commons
A map of the Kuril Islands in the Sea of Okhotsk. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Huawei Tech Co., a subsidiary of the Chinese technology giant Huawei, has beat out Finland’s Nokia for a $51 million contract to connect the Kuril Islands in Russia’s Far East to broadband internet.

Huawei’s contract is to supply Rostelcom, one of Russia’s largest telecommunications companies, with equipment, lay underwater and land fiberoptic cable, install equipment at customer sites and perform other works, including obtaining permits.

The Kuril Island chain stretches across the Northern Pacific from Russia’s Kamchatka Peninsular to Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido and is the subject of a territorial dispute between Tokyo and Moscow.

A bust of Vladimir Lenin is seen in front of the Holy Trinity Cathedral in the settlement of Yuzhno-Kurilsk on the Island of Kunashir, one of four islands known as the Southern Kurils in Russia and the Northern Territories in Japan. Photo: Yuri Maltsev, Reuters
A bust of Vladimir Lenin and the Holy Trinity Cathedral on the Island of Kunashir, part of the Kuril Island chain. Photo: Yuri Maltsev, Reuters

The contract, which was signed under an agreement with the Ministry of Communications and Mass Media of the Russian Federation, involves laying fiberoptic links to connect Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk (Sakhalin Island) – Kurilsk (Iturup Island) – Yuzhno-Kurilsk (Kunashir Island) – Krabozavodskoye (Shikotan Island).

The length of the transmission line will be about 940 kilometers with a the capacity of 40 Gigabyte/second, with the potential to expand the capacity.

Construction is slated to begin next year, with the date for completion of laying the cable on the seabed scheduled for September 8, 2018.  Installation of main equipment is set for October 8, 2018, and transfer of ownership by June 1, 2019.

In October 2016, Rostelecom completed the construction of an underwater fiberoptic link to Sakhalin-Magadan-Kamchatka in the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. The length of the line is about 1,700 km and the maximum throughput is 8 Terabytes a second.

A sovereignty dispute over the Kuril Islands between Moscow and Tokyo prevented the signing of a peace treaty between Japan and Russia after the end of the Second World War.

Read: Japan, Russia try business to defuse Kuril Island dispute

Several decades of discussions haven’t resolved the dispute over the southern part of the Kuril Islands, which was included in the Soviet Union after the war.

Japan claims the islands of Iturup, Kunashir, Shikotan and Habomai, citing a bilateral Treatise on Trade and the Borders of 1855.