Agreement to bridge European and Latin American R&E networks via underwater cable

European and Latin American research and education (R&E) communities have signed an agreement to build a fibre optic cable under the Atlantic Ocean linking the two regions. This will greatly improve cooperation efforts of both researchers and academics.

Thanks to partial EU funding from the BELLA-S1 project, GÉANT, the largest and most advanced R&E network in the world, and the Latin American Cooperation of Advanced Networks (RedCLARA) recently signed an agreement for a new digital highway that will link Portugal with Brazil. The signing of an indefeasible right of use contract for 25 years of direct transatlantic connectivity will ensure that the data sharing and collaboration needs of the European and Latin American R&E communities are met in domains such as astronomy, particle physics and Earth observation.

The EU-funded ALICE project was instrumental in interconnecting GÉANT and RedCLARA for the first time in 2003. It created a Latin American intra-regional research networking infrastructure to support scientific and academic collaboration between the two continents. Over the years, connection speeds have increased from 622 Mbps to the present 10 Gbps, a growth of over 1 600 %, according to a press release on the project website. “However, there is no direct submarine cable capable of supporting research and education data needs between Europe and Latin America, limiting capacity and cost-effectiveness.”

Answering Europe’s call for transatlantic connectivity to Latin America

Construction on the cable will start in the second half of 2018. It’s scheduled to begin operating in late 2020. With R&E traffic flowing directly between the two continents, latency is expected to be reduced by up to 60 %. It will also improve data protection, while providing cost-effective and scalable connectivity at significantly higher speeds than ever before.

GÉANT CEO Erik Huizer said: “Obtaining spectrum on an intercontinental submarine cable, which we can deploy and upgrade with our Latin American partners in line with research and education connectivity requirements, is a completely new model for our international connections, and will provide us with the flexibility and cost efficiencies we need to meet our users’ needs.” He added: “It will be exciting to watch the deployment of a submarine cable at close hand and we look forward to seeing bits between GÉANT and RedCLARA being exchanged for the first time on a physically direct path between the two continents in 2020.”

Luis Eliécer Cadenas, Executive Director of RedCLARA , noted: “This milestone is a key achievement for the Latin American research and education community. We are opening a direct collaboration channel with Europe, guaranteeing security and quality of service for the many scientific and educational applications that we expect to offer.” He continued: “RedCLARA is engaged in building the data communications infrastructure for research and education that will foster regional development. The BELLA subsea cable is a first stone in building this capacity.”

The ongoing BELLA-S1 (BELLA-S1 Building Europe Link with Latin America) project aims to “provide for the long-term interconnectivity needs of the European and Latin American research and education networks,” as stated on the CORDIS website. Overall, the objective is to “strengthen connectivity to Latin America,” thus “ensuring very high capacity, cost benefits and the shortest possible route, whilst stimulating diversity over the transatlantic segment.” In addition to securing rights for spectrum on a direct submarine cable between the two regions, the project will deploy a 100 Gbps-capable R&E network throughout Latin America.

For more information, please see:
BELLA-S1 project website

last modification: 2018-10-09

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