SANTIAGO – Chile has started accepting bids for the construction of the first fiber-optic cable to run between Asia and South America. After the country signed a 3-million-dollar agreement with the Development Bank of Latin America to finance a feasibility study, the bidding seems to go between two countries: China and Japan. Huawei is among the interested parties.
The trans-Pacific fiber-optic cable will run for approximately 24,000 km, depending on the city it connects with. The project, promoted by the Chilean government since 2018, will connect with Japan or with Shanghai in China. Both countries’ tech companies (Huawei in China and NEC in Japan) had submitted pre-feasibility studies in 2017, to explore potential routes across the ocean.
The route to Japan will have 24,000 km and cost USD$600 million dollar, while the Shanghai-route of USD$500 million dollar will have 22,800 kilometers. In June 2020, the government wants to take a decision over the destination of the project.
Huawei and Google
According to Huawei Marine, the part of the company that oversees submarine projects, there hasn’t been any offer from their part so far, and they are studying participating in the government auction. President Piñera had invited the company to participate in such a bid during his Asia-tour in April of this year.
Constructing a trans-Pacific fiber-optic cable would fit in the philosophy of the Belt and Road Initiative from China, which seeks to enhance infrastructure cooperation, data and voice transmission between Asia and South America.
All current submarine cables that connect South America and Asia are currently running through the U.S., which is why Chile proposed the trans-Pacific project. Earlier this year, Google connected the country with California through a 10,000 km-long submarine data cable. That projected was called Chile’s largest single data cable and illustrated the role Chile wants to play as smart tech hub in Latin-America.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.