News

Chile awards feasibility study for Trans-Pacific cable

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Chile's telecommunications regulator Subtel has awarded a feasibility study to Telecommunications Management Group (TMG) and WFN Strategies (WFN) for a proposed submarine fiber optic cable that would connect Asia with Latin America.

The US$3mn study, which will be financed by Latin American development bank CAF, will research the technical, legal, financial and economic parameters of the project, which would involve 24,000km of cabling, throughput capacity of 10-20Tbps over 4-8 pairs, cost an estimated US$650mn to build and be run as a public-private consortium for 25-30 years.

The objective of the cable is to provide a digital bridge between Asia and South America. Chile has been seeking commitments and expressions of interest from other countries to purchase traffic on the proposed cable.

Commenting on the news, transport and telecommunications minister Gloria Hutt said: "This initiative will enable our country to better face the digital revolution, facilitating the installation of datacenters, trade, innovation and the creation of new businesses between both continents."

The other companies that made bids for the study were: Altman Vilandrie & Co., Analysys Mason Limited, Salience Consortium, Zagreb Consultores, Huaxin Consulting, Consorcio Silica Marine and Mantención y Servicios Paz.

Subtel has been reaching out to counterparts in other countries to gauge interest in potentially sharing the cost of the infrastructure. Interest has already been received from French Polynesia, Brazil, Ecuador and Argentina.

The feasibility study will be divided into three with delivery deadlines of November 4, 2019, December 27, 2019 and June 24, 2020 and going into different levels of depth on: supply & demand potential, technological alternatives, proposed routes, regulatory & governance guidance, capex and opex, and the business case.

In 2017, Subtel carried out a pre-feasibility study of the cable with Chinese telecoms equipment supplier Huawei, which revealed three potential routes: Valparaíso-Juan Fernández Islands-Easter Island-Auckland-Sydney-Shanghai; Valparaíso-Juan Fernández Islands-Easter Island-Tahiti-Shanghai; and Punta Arenas-Auckland-Shanghai

POTENTIAL PARTICIPANTS

There are only a handful of companies worldwide in the business of building submarine networks, if the project reaches the tender stage. In 2017, Subtel awarded a US$100mn submarine and terrestrial fiber project to a consortium of Huawei Marine and local telco CTR. Other bidders included: Telefónica, Austral Telco (an investment consortium put together by Chilean mobile operator WOM, and Canada's VuPoint Systems).

BNamericas looks at some of the main companies that could potentially be interested in this project.

Huawei Marine Networks (China)

The company already has experience in building the Fibra Óptica Austral in Chile and was one of the main proponents of the Chile-Asia cable, having carried out the original pre-feasibility study. A likely candidate. When contacted by BNamericas, the company preferred not to comment.

Telefónica (Spain)

A Spanish telecommunications multinational that spun-off its infrastructure unit Telxius, which operates submarine cables globally.

Alcatel Submarine Networks (France)

One of the leading vendors in the market with many years of experience. The company serves sectors including telecommunications, oil & gas, power utilities, defense, public safety, highways, state and local governments, and railways.

Fujitsu (Japan)

An IT company that provides customer-centric IT and communications solutions. The company offers products and services for technology buyers; OEMs; small, mid-level and large enterprises; and governments.

NEC (Japan)

NEC is an IT and network technology solutions provider. It designs and manufactures superior subsea fiber optic cables and can operate at depths of 8,000 meters.

TE SubCom (USA)

TE SubCom designs and manufactures connectivity and sensor solutions. The company operates in various segments such as network upgrades, oil and gas scientific applications, marine services, flexible solutions, repeaterless networks and repeatered solutions.

Seaborn Networks (USA)

A US company with important submarine fiber network projects in Latin America such as Seabras-1, connecting São Paulo and the NY metro area.

Angola Cables (Angola)

A firm with different submarine cable projects in place in South America, either by itself or as part of a consortium.

Orange Marine (France)

A wholly-owned subsidiary of Orange, Orange Marine is a major global player in the laying and maintenance of submarine communications cables.

Infinera (USA)

A manufacturer of end-to-end optical transmission equipment for long-haul, subsea, datacenter interconnection and metro applications.

Kokusai Cable Ship (Japan)

An experienced Japanese company that installs domestic and international optical submarine cables.

S.B. Submarine Systems Co. (SBSS) (China)

One of the leading providers of subsea cable installation services in China and Asia.

NTT World Engineering Marine Corporation (Japan)

A Japanese provider of route design, engineering, laying and maintenance of submarine cables.

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