Facebook and GlobeNet begin construction on new Brazil to Argentina subsea cable

05 September 2018 | James Pearce

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Facebook has partnered with Latin American wholesale provider GlobeNet to being construction of a new subsea cable system linking Argentina to Brazil.

The 2,500km Malbec cable, named after a renowned Argentinian wine, will run from the Brazilian cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo to the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires via a landing point in the coastal town of Las Toninas. It will also feature a branching unit the Brazilian city Porto Alegre.

It will feature six fibre pairs, delivering double the current international capacity to Argentina, according to GlobeNet, who will operate the system, which is co-owned with Facebook. Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) is the contractor, and the capacity is 18Tb per fibre pair.

The system will link back into GlobeNet’s existing network, which includes 23,500km of subsea cable and data centre infrastructure. This means it will have onward connectivity options to the US and beyond.

“We are excited and proud to work with Facebook” says Eduardo Falzoni, CEO of GlobeNet. “Argentina deserves state-of-the-art infrastructure to satisfy the pressing demands of the years ahead. This project is a testament to our capabilities, expertise and commitment to the region where we have been operating for 15 years.”

The cable system is due to be ready for service in the first half of 2020 and GlobeNet claims it will be the first new route to provide direct connectivity from Argentina to Brazil and the US since 2001. However, it faces competition in this regard, with Seaborn Networks also launching a cable linking Argentina and Brazil – ARBR.

The 2,700km ARBR cable was announced earlier this year, with an initial capacity of 48Tbps, and onward connectivity to New York through Seaborn’s Seabras-1 cable system. It is due to be ready for service in 2019, according to Seaborn’s construction partner Xtera.

GlobeNet said the contract with its supplier – who was not named in its announcement – has come into force, meaning construction can begin on its cable system. Capacity contacted GlobeNet to find our more information about its new cable system and is awaiting a response.

In an interview with Capacity earlier this year, GlobeNet executive chairman Erick Contag said the “conditions were right” for it to launch into Argentina, meaning it was digitally connecting “all of Latin America.”

“The economy in Argentina is growing, there’s a strong framework in place and there is important investment being made in the country,” he said.

In the same interview, he also discussed the importance of partnerships with OTT providers such as Facebook – who were not initially named as partner for the Malbec cable when it was first announced in May.

“Without OTTs a lot of the infrastructure we have wouldn’t exist because they are willing to deploy the infrastructure that perhaps would’ve been very difficult to justify for a carrier,” he explained. “Because of the internet you have to democratise information and content – many of the remote regions that these OTTs are trying to reach because of that growing need for internet connectivity, I doubt would have had it without it, and I’m all for it.”