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Silica Networks, provincial telcos to build out fiber optic network

Bnamericas Published: Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Argentina-based fiber optics telecom infrastructure company Silica Networks formed a strategic partnership with three provincial telecom operators to build out a fiber optic network stretching across Brazil, Argentina and Chile.

Silica Networks joined forces with REFSA telecomunicaciones, Marandú and Ecom from the northern Argentine provinces of Formosa, Misiones and Chaco, respectively.

The public-private partnership will connect the respective fiber optic networks of the three telcos and add new connections, building out a 15,000km network connecting the Chilean Pacific and Atlantic coasts without having to pass through the Argentine capital Buenos Aires. The Atlantic access will be via an agreement with Brazilian state operator Telebras and other Brazilian operators.

According to a statement, Silica said the idea of the PPP was to give Argentina greater independence from the dominant submarine and fiber optic cable infrastructure providers and promote economic development in the country's northern provinces.

The interconnection will favor generation, caching and sharing of local content through connectivity to the regional internet exchange providers (IXP) operated by Argentine internet association CABASE, which are operational in Posadas (Misiones province) and Saenz Peña (Chaco province).

Argentina's state-owned telco ArSat has a 32,000km fiber network which connects the country's main urban centers in the provinces of Córdoba, Santa Fe and Buenos Aires. However, this implies higher wholesale access costs for provinces outside its coverage area.

Silica said the fiber network would encourage investment in innovation in different industries that require high capacity and low latency connectivity, such as the machine to machine technology.

In the first year of his presidency, Mauricio Macri has introduced a series of telecom reforms designed to encourage foreign investment in the country.

Communications minister Oscar Aguad said in September that new regulations opening up the telecom market in Argentina could lead to investments of as much as US$20bn over four years. Aguad also said last week that the government plans to increase the level of investment in telecommunications to 3% of the country's GDP.

Silica Networks, which is a unit of Grupo DATCO operates an 11,000km fiber optic ring connecting the major cities in Argentina with the Chilean capital Santiago.

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