Education alliance BELLA agrees IRU for EllaLink subsea cable system


GÉANT and Latin American research and education network RedCLARA has signed an Indefeasible Right of Use (IRU) contract with EllaLink for spectrum on its subsea cable system linking Europe to Latin America.

The IRU, which has been procured on behalf of the BELLA consortium, will see European research and education collaboration firm GÉANT and RedCLARA provide for the transatlantic data-sharing and collaboration needs of the European and Latin American research and education communities for the next quarter of a century.

The funding could serve as a key component for the building of the 9,300km EllaLink cable system, which will link the major Brazilian hubs of São Paulo and Fortaleza with Lisbon, Portugal, and Madrid, Spain.

The EllaLink cable system is being developed by Alcatel Submarine Networks and will initially offer 72Tbps capacity over four fibre pairs. It is due to be ready for service in 2020.

The spectrum on the EllaLink cable will be used to directly flow research and education traffic between Latin America and Europe, reducing latency by up to 60% whilst also providing cost-effective and scalable connectivity for the parties involved.

The need to scale connectivity was highlighted recently by exciting discoveries in the area of astronomy, according to RedCLARA, such as the merger of two neutron stars (known as a ‘Kilonova’) and the detection of ‘Oumuamua’, the most elongated asteroid known to science, that required collaboration involving infrastructure and scientists in Europe and Latin America.

Luis Eliécer Cadenas, Executive Director of RedCLARA, and co-chair of the BELLA Consortium, said, “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.

“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.”

RedCLARA interconnected with GÉANT – which develops, delivers and promotes advanced network and associated e-infrastructure services across the research and education sector – in 2003 as part of the EU-funded ALICE project.

Since then connections speeds have grown by over 1,600% from 622 Megabits per second (Mbps) to the current 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps) despite the lack of a dedicated subsea cable system supporting research and data education between Latam and Europe.

Erik Huizer, GÉANT CEO said, “I am delighted to see the culmination of work with our BELLA Consortium colleagues leading to the signature of the BELLA contract with EllaLink. 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.

“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.”