Thanks to the collaborative work between Silica Networks, the Chilean Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT) and the Regional Government of Aysén, a fiber optic cable was installed in General Carrera Lake that will reduce the digital divide in a remote region of Chile.

The 220-kilometer cable installed in the lake, a process that was completed earlier this month, is part of Chile’s Fibra Óptica Austral (FOA) project to bring high-speed Internet connectivity to remote locations in the southern part of the country.  FOA includes a submarine cable portion, already in service, along the coast stretching 2,800 kilometers between Puerto Montt and Punta Williams, with branches to Caleta Tortel and Punta Arenas.  The General Carrera Lake installation is part of FOA’s 630-kilometer terrestrial component that will improve connectivity in the towns of Coyhaique, El Blanco, Balmaceda, Cerro Castillo, Puerto Ingeniero Ibáñez, Bahía Murta, Chile Chico, Puerto Río Tranquilo, Mallín Grande, Puerto Guadal, Puerto Bertrand, Cochrane, Los Ñadis and Caleta Tortel.

Cable laying in the lake required a great deal of coordination between the parties due to the depth of the lake and the changing weather conditions, managed to be done successfully.  

The cable also will be used to collect scientific data.  General Carrera is the eleventh deepest lake in the world and the cable was installed at depths of more than 550 meters in some points.  The optical fibers within the cable will use Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) technology to “analyze and interpret the different phenomena that occur in the lake," said Misael Bustamante, manager of strategic projects and regulation of Silica Networks.  These data can be made available to academic institutions for further study. 

The use of DAS on submarine fiber optic cables in the ocean appears on track to become a significant trend in the 2020s, but this may be the first time the technology will be used to study a large freshwater system.  

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