Brazil selects Chinese supplier for second leg of Amazon fiber project
Brazil has hired Chinese fiber optic and cable maker Hengtong as a supplier for the second leg of its flagship Amazon Norte Conectado (North Connected) sub-river fiber project, BNamericas said.
Called Infovia 01, this section will stretch 1,000 km from Manaus in the state of Amazonas to Santarém in the state of Pará and will cost around 165 million reais ($33 million). Deployment is expected to be completed in late 2022 or early 2023.
Founded in 1991, Wujiang-based Hengtong is the majority shareholder of HMN, formerly Huawei Marine Networks (HMN), the spin-off subsidiary of China’s Huawei.
Hengtong claims to be the largest optical fiber and power cable manufacturer in China and one of the top three optical fiber communication companies in the world. The group says it provides 15% of the international market for this type of equipment.
Its submarine cable lines are used by the offshore industry, with customers mentioned on its official website including Petronas of Malaysia, a refinery in Kazakhstan and the Russian government, among others.
Hengtong has had a manufacturing plant in Pouso Alegre in the state of Minas Gerais since 2015, where cables for Infovia 00 are manufactured, according to Eduardo Grizendi, director of engineering and operations for the national research and education network. (RNP) of the country.
Other suppliers for Infovia 01, such as DWDM optical equipment and cable launcher, are expected to be selected in the third quarter of this year.
The Norte Conectado was created by the Ministry of Communications with the aim of extending the communications infrastructure in the Amazon region of the country through an underwater fiber backbone, made up of eight sections (Infovias or info-ways), deployed along the rivers of the Amazon basin. .
Linked to the Ministry of Science and Technology (MCTI), RNP was responsible for the first leg, Infovia 00, due to its expertise in backbone connectivity and because the government wanted to test the model. Infovia 00 was a “pilot”, Grizendi said.
Infovia 00 was completed in February of this year, connecting Macapá (State of Amapá) to Alenquer (Pará). Italian Prysmian was the cable supplier, having been hired in 2021 for $5.54 million. The cables were made in Germany.
The total investment in Infovia 00 was 94 million reais, with funds coming from the Ministry of Communications.
While RNP has a seat on the Norte Conectado steering committee, the entity will not be the coordinator of the following sections of the program.
For Infovia 01, the company responsible is EAD (Seja Digital), the group formed by telecommunications operators and broadcasters to oversee the application of resources related to the digitization of television in Brazil, within the framework of auction obligations of the 2014 700 MHz spectrum.
BNamericas confirmed that Hengtong secured the contract with a source at EAD.
As for the remaining seven sections of the Norte Conectado, the EAF group will be in charge. EAF was created by telecom operators who won November’s 5G spectrum auction to oversee investments in mandatory tenders. Investing in Amazon’s connectivity was one of those obligations.
Infovia 00’s network, including access networks (backbone to cities), landing stations, modular data centers and associated equipment is already in place.
At the end of May, RNP activated Infovia 00’s DWDM system, the technology that lights up the fiber backbone for transmission.
What is now pending is the signing of a contract with the consortium of companies that will use the network. This one is scheduled for June 29, according to Grizendi.
This group is formed by Telefônica Brasil as the main telecom operator, and five ISPs: BRDigital, Wirelink, ICOM, SEA Telecom and Aquamar.
Two other companies, a carrier and a telecommunications services company, are interested in joining, Grizendi said.
He added that the contract provides for the possibility of integrating new partners after approval by the steering committee, pointing out that Infovia 00 still has some unused capacity.
The cable has 24 pairs of optical fibers, each fiber with a data channel with a transmission capacity of 100 Gbps. The public sector is entitled to six of these pairs, leaving 18 for private companies.
Of these, 12 will be used by the consortium’s six telecom operators, leaving another six pairs for at least three other companies.
The project suffered various delays, mainly due to the pandemic, according to Grizendi, affecting hydrological studies and the site survey. EGS Brasil was the company hired to carry out this process.
In addition, environmental clearance was complex because it had to go through different federal and state oversight agencies, Grizendi said.
Hired for 7.5 million reais, Navegação Prates concluded the launch of the cable in the river in February.
MDC Industria de Conteineres supplied the modular data centers for 5.1 million reais, while Padtec supplied the DWDM optical system for 3.51 million reais.
The metropolitan sections, which distribute the backbone signal to the premises of neighboring municipalities, were finalized in March.
MAXIMIZE THE NETWORK
RNP’s national fiber backbone is large and powerful, but could be put to better use, according to Grizendi.
“We want to maximize the use of our optical infrastructure. We have metro networks … which can reach antennas, radio base stations,” Grizendi told reporters at an open 5G event in Campinas.
RNP was Brazil’s first national backbone. It connects more than 800 institutions in the country and has 27 points of presence (PoP), one in each Brazilian state. It is also connected to submarine cables and global research and education networks, such as Géant in Europe and RedCLARA in Latin America.
Now RNP is studying to become an MVNO, Grizendi said.
The objective is to take advantage of its backbone and use the access networks deployed by telecommunications operators to offer data plans to an addressable base of approximately 4 million researchers and professionals in the educational community. it serves with its fixed infrastructure, he said.
This format is not new, according to the executive, citing SURFnet, the organization responsible for the Netherlands’ National Education and Research Network (NREN), as an example.
Image source: EAD (Seja Digital)