Chile’s infrastructure fund, Desarrollo del País, along with the Subsecretariat of Telecommunications (Subtel) and the Regional Government of Magallanes, have signed an agreement to promote the deployment of a submarine fiber optic cable that connects Antarctica with the rest of the world through Chile.

It would be the first submarine cable in history to land in Antarctica. The agreement will pave way for the preparation of a technical, legal, economic and financial feasibility study.

The Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Francisco Moreno; the Regional Governor of Magallanes, Jorge Flies; and the General Manager of Desarrollo del País, Patricio Rey; participated in the signing of the agreement, held in Punta Arenas.

“The signing of this agreement reaffirms Chile's historic commitment to Antarctica. Starting the studies to bring the first submarine fiber optic cable there is a step that reaffirms our leadership position on the continent and our efforts to put the interests of science and the progress of all humanity at the center. As a government, we are determined to carry out this enormous project and, in this way, contribute strategically to the concerns of the international community and to expand the development of scientific cooperation,” indicated the Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Gloria Hutt.

“Despite being a continent that is [the focus of] scientific research, today Antarctica has enormous limitations due to insufficient digital connectivity. Through this project, and thanks to the deployment of the Austral Fiber Optic (FOA) in Magallanes and Tierra del Fuego, we aspire that the large volumes of scientific information that arise from the multiple investigations that are carried out in this continent, [are transmitted] from Antarctica to the rest of the world through Chilean telecommunications networks. We are taking the first step to create an Antarctic digital hub and consolidate Chile's position as the region's digital hub,” said the Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Francisco Moreno.

The potential route covers a distance of approximately one thousand kilometers from Puerto Williams to Antarctica, presenting an advantage over proposed cables linking Antarctica to other continents. One of the factors that favor the deployment of the Antarctic Submarine Cable are the facilities offered by the landing station located in Puerto Williams, the closest to the Antarctic continent by a large margin, and which provides a unique opportunity for the deployment of a fiber optic cable across the Southern Ocean.

The Country Development General Manager, Patricio Rey, stated that, “this milestone is the beginning of a long journey that aims to provide Antarctica with a connection to the global high-speed network. This infrastructure could bring the white continent considerably closer to the world and allow the sharing of scientific information in real time with research centers around the planet.”

The implementation of the Antarctic connection is also promoted by the Regional Government of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, an entity that tries to promote the development of the region, science, connectivity, logistics and tourism, sectors that present a special position regarding of the white continent.

“For the Regional Government of Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica, whose historical characteristics as a region have been isolation, the possibility of being connected to the world through fiber optics is a fundamental element for the 21st century. This fact has been materialized with the Austral Fiber Optic, but part of the territory of Magallanes is in the Chilean Antarctic and in an act of extension of the national territory, of sovereignty of the 21st century in science and technology, the [connection of] the Austral Fiber Optic [to Antarctica] would have a great impact not only for the Magallanes Region, but also for the history of Chile and the Antarctic Treaty international agreement,” said the regional governor of Magallanes, Jorge Flies.