An event in Portugal inaugurated on Tuesday 1st an optical fiber submarine cable whose investment amounted to more than 150 million euros (approximately R $ 1 billion) and which promises a high-speed connection between the Brazil and Europe. The direct connection with the European continent has the advantage of reducing the so-called latency – the time between the request of an order and its execution.
With the change, there is a 60 millisecond decrease from the current route, in which the data first passes through the United States and then only reaches Europe. It doesn’t seem like much, but it represents a leap forward in financial transactions, transmission of remote surgeries, and even online gaming performance.
The link between South America and Europe, without passing through the United States, was also a long-standing desire of European sectors more concerned with data privacy, because the continent’s laws on storage and data information sharing are much more restrictive than American ones.
“Our geographical position made us in the past, made us today and will make us, in the future, a bridge between Europe and the other continents”, declared the Portuguese Prime Minister, the socialist António Costa, stressing the strategic importance of his country, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union.
The inauguration was part of a larger program on European digital leadership, in which also participated, via a video message, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, also the Portuguese António Guterres, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Marcos Pontes, represented Brazil at the ceremony.
Called Ellalink (the same name as the company that built it), the submarine cable stretches 6,000 km, starting from Fortaleza and reaching Sines, on the Portuguese coast, 160 km from Lisbon.
Designed nearly a decade ago, construction began in 2018, and according to EllaLink President Philippe Dumont, the cable was designed to have a 25-year lifespan.
The bulk of the 150 million euros of construction comes from private investments, although there is a significant contribution from public money. Around 25 million euros are financed by the so-called “pillar” clients of the project, who invested even before it started.
Among them, the Bella scientific consortium (Building Europe Link to Latin America), which includes the Géant research network, on the European side, and RedCLARA, Latin America. The RNP (National Education and Research Network), linked to the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology, has invested 7.5 million euros through the CLARA Network. The other Latin American research institutions in the network are supporting the cables that will link the Latin American countries to Fortaleza.
In a speech at the inauguration, the president of EllaLink indicated that he was betting on the rapid development of the city of Sines, anchored on the investment of companies interested in taking advantage of the new connection. In fact, in recent months, the municipality has been at the center of a race for technological resources. In April it was announced that the city would receive a large international data center – with around 3.5 billion euros (22.1 billion BRL) of investment, the project is the largest announced in Portugal for over of a decade.
By 2025, the creation of around 1,500 direct jobs and another 8,000 indirect jobs is expected in the region.
With the intensification of online transactions and the digitization of services, the demand for high-capacity optical fiber has also exploded. The construction and operation of these connections are contested by tech giants, notably Google, and are also subject to geopolitical challenges.
China’s initiatives, for example, are viewed with suspicion by Washington and many European countries. Beijing has announced its intention to build the “Digital Silk Road” with an extensive fiber optic network among the participating countries. Last month, Brazil joined another submarine cable initiative: the Humboldt, budgeted at around US $ 400 million (around R $ 2 billion). Led by Chile, the project aims to link South America, Asia and Oceania.