Argentina , United States , Brazil and Uruguay
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Watershed LatAm underwater cable projects advancing rapidly

Bnamericas
Watershed LatAm underwater cable projects advancing rapidly

Two flagship underwater fiber backbone projects in Latin America have made new advances.

On Monday, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva inaugurated Infovia 01, the second stretch of the Norte Conectado backbone project that runs along the beds of the Amazon River and major tributaries. 

This 1,100km section connects Santarém in Pará state and Manaus in Amazonas state, with branches to Óbidos, Juruti, Curuá, Parintins, Urucurituba and Itacoatiara, as well as to Oriximiná, Terra Santa and Autazes.

This route is expected to take internet to around 3mn people in the region, according to the federal government, and also includes terrestrial networks.

Half of the cables are designed to connect public services, such as schools, hospitals, police stations and city halls. The other half will be used commercially by telcos and ISPs under a contract valid for 15 years.

The companies that will operate Infovia 01 as a consortium are Telefônica, TIM, Claro, Aquamar, ClickIP/ICOM Telecom, SEA Telecom, BR Fibra, Mobwire/DB3 (Alloha), Ozônio Telecom, PPLINK, VOCE Telecom and V.tal.

HT Cabos and HMN, the local subsidiaries of Chinese fiber optics manufacturer Hengtong, supplied the cabling for this second stretch. Infovia 01 is also the first of the Norte Conectado sections funded with money from the country's 5G tender.

As previously reported by BNamericas, China’s ZTT International Submarine Cable & System was hired as the cable supplier for another three stretches of Norte Conectado; Infovias 02, 03 and 04, which will provide broadband connections to 22 municipalities in the region. ZTT will produce, test and deliver 2,345km of underwater cables and 456km of terrestrial ones.

In total, the Norte Conectado program is designed to have eight stretches with a total 12,000km of fiber backbone across rivers in the Amazon, reaching 59 locations.

Funding for the program is put at 1.3bn reais (US$265mn).

The routes are made up of 24 pairs of optical fiber. According to the communications ministry, each pair has a capacity of up to 20Tbps.

FIRMINA

Further south, Google is advancing the deployment of its Firmina cable, which will run from the east coast of the US to Las Toninas in Argentina, with landing points in Praia Grande, Brazil and Punta del Este in Uruguay.

In Argentina, Paraná Logística was hired to oversee deployment and provide a wide scope of services both onshore and offshore, the company said in a social media publication. The firm reported that it has already begun the installation of fiber for Firmina.

The first phase will see the Atlantic Dama vessel mobilized to aid the 180km pre lay grapnel run (PLGR) stage off the coast of Las Toninas, according to Paraná Logística. The PGLR takes place a few days before the installation and involves the ship clearing any obstacles that could obstruct the cable, such as fishing nets, ropes, lines, etc.

Following the completion of the PLGR, a second phase scheduled for the second half of August will consist of passing the cable itself and landing it on the coast, among other things.

Argentina gave the green light to the installation of Firmina last year.

In Uruguay, Google used the vessel Durable, which left Montevideo on July 4 bound for Punta del Este, where the deployment has already been completed.

Uruguay’s President Luis Alberto Lacalle Pou formally approved the installation of Firmina last December.

BNamericas also learned that Google filed a licensing request with São Paulo’s environmental watchdog Cetesb on June 6 related to Praia Grande municipality. The request is for an industrial waste treatment approval certificate (Cadri).

The document does not provide details on the project and has been listed as “under analysis” by the agency since August 2. According to the available information, it refers to a location close to the shore, where the cable should soon land. Praia Grande’s Firmina landing point is still under construction.

The cable is part of Google's five-year, US$1.2bn investment plan for Latin America. Like Curie, which connects Chile to California, Firmina is fully owned by Google. The company plans to activate the entire system this year.

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