The US government is calling for tenders to build the first fibre-optic link across the Antarctic.
According to Reuters, the 2000-kilometre cable will offer high-speed web access and a reliable phone link to scientists in Scott Base at the South Pole.
Science teams currently rely on patchy voice connections via communication satellites.
But the satellites do not travel around the South Pole, so the teams can only use those that have drifted from their intended orbits.
A cable will deliver other benefits, including the ability for scientists to instantly transmit research to the US.
The American National Science Foundation is confident that the service will be in place by 2009, despite the considerable engineering problems involved.
Temperatures of minus 50 degrees centigrade and the shifting of ice will place enormous strains on the cable.
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