Big Interview

Gtd future-proofing Chile

Ignacio Larrain - GTD.jpg

Gtd Teleductos (Gtd) is due to go live with its Prat cable later this year.

Capacity spoke to Ignacio Larraín, vice president of the infrastructure and wholesale segment at Gtd about the project. What’s next for the company in the infra space after Prat becomes RFS?

Spanning 3,500km in length, the €50 million Prat cable connects along the entire coast of Chile with multiple landing points along the way, giving it an immediate USP compared with other systems.

Larraín describes the cable as an “unprecedented project in Chile” due to its connecting the country north to south – Arica to Puerto Montt. It will also “be connected to the existing southern fibre network”, extending it to a total of 4,500km, with 12 landing points joining together the biggest cities on the Chilean coast.

Larraín says that, through this project, Gtd is supporting the country’s development by “improving internet access and connectivity for Chileans”. As it is a subsea cable route, it will add “substantial diversity”, and “most of the external risks that affect connectivity are eliminated, such as earthquakes, fires, theft, floods, among others”.

Once completed Prat, will join existing fibre networks in the main cities of Chile, complementing the company’s terrestrial fibre backhaul, and extending network coverage to new cities.

Peru is Chile’s northern neighbour, and Prat will enable access to Gtd Peru’s 3,000km of fibre, which will hopefully be connected to directly in the coming years.

“It will also connect our Puerto Montt data centre with Santiago – the capital of Chile – through this additional route making it a unique asset in the country,” says Larraín. “Prat definitively gives us a better and integral position as a provider to our residential, enterprise and wholesale clients in the market.”

The seven landing points in Chile are in Antofagasta, Arica, Iquique, La Serena, Puerto Montt, Talcahuano and Valparaíso and, at most, the cable landing stations have the “flexibility to offer colocation data centre services to clients”, explains Larraín.

“We believe this approach will help us get the most of this infrastructure in the future, especially with the increasing needs for low latency and high availability of data,” he continues.

One of the key drivers of new subsea systems like Prat and other projects has been the accelerating need to access large amounts of content and data from abroad, especially video content. According to Cisco’s 2017-2022 Visual Networking Index, video will account for 82% of all IP traffic by 2022.

“But there also has been a recent growth in the local data generation coming from the implementation of new technologies and digitalisation in the companies from the region,” adds Larraín.

Gtd decided to build Prat independently, without an over-the-top (OTT) partner – it owns the system 100%. Larraín says that the company wanted to “connect Chile with a diverse and safer route, and with this build a legacy for our country and provide better conditions to develop business and contribute to the digital transformation of our clients”.

Supporting Gtd in its mission to create a legacy for Chile is Prysmian group, who was selected as the builder of the turnkey repeaterless subsea system. The decision also marks the first deal to be secured through the group’s submarine telecoms division since it was integrated through the acquisition of General Cable.

Why did Gtd decide to go with Prysmian? Larraín explains: “The vast knowledge of similar projects done by Prysmian and our good experience with them in the construction of the submarine cables from Puerto Montt to Chiloe and Puerto Chacabuco were decisive when comparing Prysmian with other providers.”

Similarly, Gtd has entrusted the expansion of capacity on the Prat cable and terrestrial fibre network to Infinera and its 7300 Multi-haul Transport Platform, mTera Universal Transport Platform, and Transcend software-defined networking (SDN) solution. This means it can deliver flexible and dynamic SDN services across its network.

Choosing Infinera, according to Larraín followed bids from and negotiations with a number of suppliers.

“The equipment offered by Coriant/Infinera stood out in the tests performed on the equipment in the laboratories of various suppliers,” he says. “Infinera’s latest-generation equipment can deliver more than the capacity projected for the largest sections of the submarine network, allowing us to expand the final capacity planned for the network, end to end.”

Installation of Prat is due to be completed in March 2020, with the last segment to connect the city of Puerto Montt before technical testing can begin. One done, the system should be ready for service by May 2020.

But then what? Larraín says that the company has an investment plan in place for the next few years that includes more fibre deployment as well as more investment in data centres.

“Over the coming months, through our business unit in Spain, Gtd España, we will be completing the construction of a submarine cable system across the Strait of Gibraltar connecting both Tarifa and La Linea [in southern Spain] with Ceuta in the African continent,” he says. Ceuta is a Spanish enclave surrounded by Moroccan territory.

“We are also currently deploying fibre in many cities of Chile, Peru and Colombia,” he adds, “increasing significatively our metropolitan network coverage in these countries.”

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