For Fastest Internet, Try a Cabin on Edge of the World

Tiny Svalbard dwelling boasts world-class speeds

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 5, 2014 2:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – You wouldn't think a 750-square-foot cabin on the edge of a rock near the North Pole would offer much in the way of cutting-edge technology. After all, there are more polar bears than people in the area, and the cabin doesn't even have running water. What its Norwegian village does have, however, is insanely fast Internet—some of the fastest on the planet, the Wall Street Journal reports. Bjorndalen, on the archipelago of Svalbard, gets speeds of 10 to 20 times what you'd see on Norway's mainland. So it's little surprise that Svein Nordahl, a 64-year-old tech enthusiast, has the cabin tricked out with computers with enough capacity to house 60,000 HD movies, a 10-foot-long screen, and plenty of iPads.

The state-run telecom company Telenor decided several years ago to use Svalbard as "a miniature version of mainland Norway," says its chief technology officer. The busiest town, Longyearbyen—which has a population of 2,000—was treated to fiber-optic broadband in every home in an effort to see if tossing out older technology like copper and coaxial cable would be a wise move. It was, says the company, which doesn't expect the mainland to catch up to Svalbard for another decade. Nordahl, who lives five miles from Longyearbyen, literally extended the speedy Internet to his cabin himself. Under an agreement with Telenor, he and fellow villagers dug out the ground to place the cables. As far as speedy Internet elsewhere goes, Bloomberg reported on the 20 countries with the fastest Internet speeds as of Q3 of 2013, per Akamai: Norway as a whole didn't make that list, and the US showed up as No. 13. Hong Kong was the world leader.

A dogsled team winds through a pass toward a glacier March 1, 2008 outside  Longyearbyen, Norway on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.
A dogsled team winds through a pass toward a glacier March 1, 2008 outside Longyearbyen, Norway on the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard.   (AP Photo/John McConnico)
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