Diversifying the Latam sea

Diversifying the Latam sea

26 February 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Capacity’s Natalie Bannerman speaks to GlobeNet CEO Eduardo Falzoni, about the impending launch of its Malbec subsea cable and what it means for the region

An unprecedented year comes with unprecedented projects, for example the much talked about Malbec subsea cable from Latam operator GlobeNet in partnership with Facebook.

The new 2,600km system connects Argentina with Brazil, with onward connectivity to the US, the rest of the Americas and to the main internet exchange points in Europe. Speaking to Eduardo Falzoni, GlobeNet’s CEO, he shares how Covid-19 has affected the company and the final stages of the cable.

According to Falzoni, the pandemic caused a big change in internet consumption patterns by both companies and individuals, which he believes will expand over the next few years.

“Although corporate traffic has decreased, internet traffic in homes has increased significantly due not only to remote work applications based on cloud platforms, but also to the increased consumption of browsing, streaming, and gaming services,” he says.

Additionally, he says operators and internet service providers (ISPs) have been increasing their contracted capacity with GlobeNet to meet the growing demand for data from their own customers but lucky their networks can keep up.

“Our modern, robust, and highly available network has been able to support this sustained increase in demand flawlessly. In fact, there is more to the network than just bandwidth: we are also focused in delivering the lowest possible latency, highest resiliency, and constant protection against DDoS attacks,” says Falzoni.

One key consumer of data, that has grown exponentially during the pandemic, is online gaming – a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing. Its main requirements are the very thing GlobeNet and its Malbec cable were made for.

“Capacity and latency are the two main elements to consider. To improve the user experience, it is necessary to create Internet Exchange Points, close to the end users, where content providers and internet service providers connect with each other,” explains Falzoni.

“For this, GlobeNet created in Fortaleza the most important Internet Exchange Point in the northeast of Brazil. In October 2020, it hosts more than 280 peering networks and manages a total aggregated traffic exceeding 1Tbps.”

Focusing in on the Malbec system specifically, Falzoni shares that one of the biggest reasons why the system was built was for added route diversity to replace the older aging systems.

“Since 2001, no new subsea cables had been deployed landing in Argentina,” he explains. “As a result, demand for high-bandwidth, data-intensive services like cloud computing and video streaming, among others, is outstripping the bandwidth capacity of existing systems.”

He also says that it has been designed to provide the lowest latency between Argentina and Brazil, using the latest technologies in optical and electronic transmission.

Specifically, the system boasts a design that “uses different mechanisms to protect and restore traffic”.

“It contemplates network mesh redundancy to avoid single points of failure, both on the subsea and terrestrial sections through new backhaul routes with geographically diverse paths between the cable stations and GlobeNet’s points of presence,” adds Falzoni.

Overall, Malbec connects GlobeNet’s existing landing station in Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo via a landing point in the nearby municipality of Praia Grande. From there, it links to Buenos Aires via a landing point in Las Toninas, a coastal town southeast of the Argentinean capital. 

“In Brazil, the new subsea route between the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo will boost performance and reduce latency for our customers,” says Falzoni.

It should come as no surprise that as the biggest country in the region, Brazil is a key Latam hub for connectivity and content – making it the ideal place for a new piece of subsea infrastructure that effectively doubles the total capacity available between Argentina and Brazil.

“Moreover, in Brazil, Malbec provides a new subsea route between the cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and offers a direct connection to Fortaleza, in the northeast of Brazil, where our Internet Exchange hosts more than 300 peering networks, manages over 1Tbps of traffic and serves over 50 million people in that region,” continues Falzoni.

Having been confirmed as being in the “final stages” of implementation back in March 2020, Malbec is due to go live in the first quarter of 2021. In fact, GlobeNet took home the award for Best Subsea Innovation at the 2020 Global Carrier Awards.

Once fully in service Falzoni says that “including Argentina in our network footprint is a key component of GlobeNet’s strategic plan” and in the future “further network expansions across the Americas” are on the cards, positioning the company to “facilitate advanced telecoms services across the region for years to come”.