United States and Mexico

Spotlight: Latin America’s new submarine cable networks

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, March 18, 2021
Spotlight: Latin America’s new submarine cable networks

New submarine cable projects continue to be unveiled in Latin America in the wake of a regional boom in data consumption, cloud, streaming and digital media, as well as being driven by untapped interconnectivity demand.

According to the fourth annual Global Interconnection Index (GXI) from Equinix, Latin America is expected to be the world’s fastest-growing region in interconnection bandwidth capacity in the next few years, increasing at a 50% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during 2019-23.

The content and digital media segment, which mostly uses international cabling, is expected to grow at a 62% CAGR in the case of Latin America, making it the highest growth rate of any sector in any region, according to Equinix.

Equinix is one of the companies powering worldwide submarine cables, as well as ground connections and internet exchange points.

Here BNamericas provides an overview of some recently announced projects that are planned for the next few years and gives a status update on projects that are expected to be launched in the near term.


The 10,000km system that connects Brazil (city of Fortaleza) to Portugal (Lisbon) by sea, with stretches linking to the archipelagos of Madeira, the Canary Islands and Cape Verde, and inland to Spain (Madrid) and France (Marseille), is now expected to be ready for service in Q2.

First announced in 2017, the project’s original activation was in 2019, with subsequent launch dates announced for 2020 and 2021.

The EllaLink group said the cable marine deployment is now completed and that it is applying the final touches to the system. 

The marine route runs through 6,000km and the landing sites in Fortaleza and Sines (Portugal) have been readied. 

In the future, there will also be landing stations in Praia Grande in Brazil's São Paulo state and in Rio de Janeiro. 

Furthermore, future network actions will enable an EllaLink extender to expand its subsea network to French Guiana, Mauritania, the Canary Islands and Morocco, creating one of the longest subsea system connecting Africa, Europe and Latin America, according to EllaLink.

In its latest update, the group said the system will have up to 100Tbps (terabit per second) of capacity over four pairs of direct fiber between Europe and Brazil.

This month saw EllaLink announce the selection of Infinera to illuminate the network, targeting a direct, single-hop transmission path between datacenters on each continent.

The cable will also have interconnection and points-of-presence (PoP) in Equinix’s datacenters in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Lisbon and Madrid.

EllaLink is an independent and privately funded company. Marguerite II, an European equity fund focused on the renewable energy, energy, transport and digital infrastructure sectors, is the company’s main shareholder.


The submarine cable system jointly developed by América Móvil and Telefónica’s infrastructure unit Telxius, will run 7,300km from Puerto San José, in Guatemala, to Valparaíso, in Chile. 

The system has landing points in Salinas (Ecuador) Lurín (Peru) and Arica (Chile) and last week it arrived in Peru. It is expected to be ready for service in June. 

The initial expectation was that SPSC would be ready to operate at the end of 2020.  

Manufactured by Subcom, the cable has 72Tbps of bandwidth capacity and will be mostly used by América Móvil’s subsidiaries, in addition to third parties. SPSC will also connect to Ameríca Móvil’s other Latin American submarine system, the AMX-1.

Telxius other cables in Latin America include SAM-1, PCCS, BRUSA, Unisur, Tannat and Junior.


FB Submarine Partners, LLC, a privately owned developer of international telecommunications projects, unveiled a new fiber cable system this month for the Caribbean.

The 1,200km system will run from the US state of Florida to Cancún in Mexico. 

FB said the GigNet-1 system has been in development for the past two years and is expected to be completed in 2022. 

Development to date has included completion of the desktop route survey, regulatory and permitting feasibility studies for both Florida and Mexico, market demand and analysis studies, and selection and contracting of key suppliers for the system design, equipment, and installation.

A marine route survey will begin in March, the company said.

The system will become the first new subsea cable from Florida to the Yucatan Peninsula in over 20 years, according to FB.

The company has selected Xtera as the main manufacturer, who will be responsible for fiber and amplifiers (repeaters), the submarine line terminals in Florida and Mexico, as well as installation management. 

In cooperation with Xtera, IT International Telecom, which will be responsible for the marine route surveys, will install the GigNet-1 system. 

In Mexico, the company will partner with GigNet Inc and its wholly-owned subsidiary GigNet SA for access to the beach in Cancún and colocation in GigNet’s cable landing station in the city. 

GigNet already operates a 250km cable that goes from Cancún to Tulum and it will be the major tenant on the GigNet-1 system, providing IP transit and connectivity throughout the region.


Atlanta-based submarine cable company Ocean Networks announced a cable system connecting West Palm Beach in Florida to the Balboa district in Panama City.

Branded Caribbean Express (CX), the system will be carrier-neutral (open to any operator or customer), use the latest space division multiplexing (SDM) technology, and have 18 pairs of fiber optics.

The cable will have links to Mexico (Cancún) and Colombia (Cartagena).

There are planned future links to Cuba (Havana), Grand Cayman (George Town), Guatemala (Puerto Barrios), Jamaica (Kingston), Honduras (Puerto Lempira), Nicaragua (Bluefields) and Costa Rica (Limón).

CX is designed to meet demand from Central American markets with lower latency connectivity to the NAP (network access point) of the Americas, located in Miami and Jacksonville (Florida).

Opened in 2001, the hurricane-proof NAP of the Americas, or MI1, is a massive datacenter operated by Equinix and it is considered to be the primary network exchange point between the US and Latin America.

NAP was built by datacenter firm Terremark, which was acquired in 2011 by US telecom group Verizon. In 2017, Equinix announced the acquisition of 29 Verizon datacenter colocation facilities in the US and Latin America – including NAP.

Ocean Networks expects the CX system to be ready for service in the first quarter of 2024.

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