Madeira Plans to Approach EU for Funds to Build Submarine Cable


Madeira plans to approach the European Union for funds to build a submarine fiber optic cable branch to connect the Telebras-IslaLink cable to the archipelago. Madeira is one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal located in the southwest in the Atlantic ocean. Mr. Miguel Albuquerque, president of the autonomous region wants to get a branching from the submarine cable that will connect South America and Europe, which is under planning by the consortium.

It is estimated that the project cost would come around 20 million euros for building a branch to the main cable. The direct branch from the intercontinental communication cable will help Madeira’s international connectivity and bandwidth requirements. Currently, Madeira depends on the mainland for its communication requirements. Portugal Telecom provides the bandwidth to the archipelago, a status that the autonomous government wishes to change by constructing a direct link to the Telebras-IslaLink consortium’s submarine cable.

Telebras-IslaLink consortium is a joint venture that is dedicated to launch and operate a submarine cable to link the South American and European continents. This joint venture is a Brazilian company that is 35% owned by Telebras, 45% owned by IslaLink, and 20% owned by a third Brazilian shareholder.

International traffic demand in the region is growing at annual rates of over 40%, is the traffic to the United States several orders of magnitude higher than that which goes straight to Europe. This is because today there is only a single cable connecting directly the two continents, which is already running out of capacity. The new cable will support the need for a high-capacity, direct connection between Europe and South America.

The cable will provide more than 30 Tbps (terabits per second) of capacity and require an investment of US$ 185 million to interconnect Brazil to Europe. Intermediate landings in French Guiana, Cape Verde, Canary Islands, and Madeira are also being considered.

This project will enable Brazil and other Latin American countries to have direct access to the largest Internet Exchange Points (IXP’s) in the world, located in the cities of Frankfurt, Amsterdam, London, and Paris, expanding the offer of international traffic capacity with lower latency and lower costs, thus enhancing performance and conditions for the general public and businesses, and particularly for those sectors with critical demands of latency such as health, cloud services and financial markets.

The submarine cable will also enable more than 1,400 institutions of research and education in South America (800 of them in Brazil) and 3,000 in Europe, including schools, universities, university hospitals, among others, to expand the exchange of information relevant to the development of science and technology in their respective countries. This will intensify the exchange of data and images between research institutions in areas of astrophysics, cosmology, optical astronomy, among other high-demand bandwidth and low latency applications, given the recent adhesion of Brazil to the European Southern Observatory and the observatories in Chile.

The initiative has the support of the Governments of Brazil and the European Union, to promote greater integration and unity in the cultural, social, scientific, economic, and political affairs of their people, giving priority to political dialogue, social policies, education, infrastructure, among others, and to eliminate socioeconomic inequality, achieve social inclusion and reduce asymmetries within the framework of strengthening the geostrategic area. Brazil, through Telebras and the Unasul initiatives, is driving the creation of a large optical ring interconnecting the countries of South America that will enable the exchange of data across the region.

The president of Madeira will ask for EU funding to support the construction of the cable as he said at a press conference with European Commissioner Carlos Moedas. The South American cable is already planned to pass within 100km of Madeira and is also receiving EU support. Madeira aims to apply for funding by June, in cooperation with private operators.

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