Portugal’s telecom regulator, Autoridade Nacional de Comunicações (ANACOM), is concerned about the future of submarine cables that connect the Portuguese Mainland to the autonomous Portuguese regions of the Azores and Madeira.  ANACOM’s concern is that the cables currently serving the regions are expected to reach the end of their useful life in 2024/2025. 

ANACOM considers it to be of the utmost urgency to take decisions to ensure the entry into operation of new interconnectors before those dates. This circumstance has prompted ANACOM to alert the national government, the regional governments of the Azores and Madeira and the operators to the need to find the solution to this problem. In order to promote the debate around this matter and identify the best options to consider, on 20 June 2018, ANACOM organized a Workshop on "The Future of Continent-Azores-Madeira Interconnection by Submarine Cable," which brought together a wide range of stakeholders.

ANACOM considers that new submarine cable interconnections should be a priority for Portugal and for the European Union, since it is a fundamental investment to ensure the national cohesion and economic development of the country and the European area.  This requires that the autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira are served by a good telecommunications infrastructure, enabling them to transmit voice and large volumes of data at high speed.

The participants of the Workshop unanimously supported the construction of a new ring linking the Azores, Madeira and the Continent, in order to ensure redundancy between those territories.

Given the size of the investment effort involved and the implications of the model to be adopted for the respective financing and management, it was considered imperative that the Portuguese State define a strategic orientation in this matter, involving the central government and the two regional governments, with mobilization of European funds. It was also stressed the need to consider a possible co-investment solution on the part of all interested parties who were invited to express their interest and availability.

ANACOM noted that it is necessary to find an integrated solution that guarantees cohesion and takes advantage of all the potential. In this context, ANACOM also draws attention to the contribution that underwater cables can give, in addition to the indispensable support for communications, to the detection and alert of seismic activity.

ANACOM has been highlighting this issue and will continue to promote it, since it is necessary to ensure the cohesion of the national territory through a wide range of services with quality and safety and at affordable prices. And it is unmistakable that submarine cables are instrumental in this challenge, and there is no alternative for them.

ANACOM has taken note of the interest of all entities and will continue to promote dialogue that will help to find solutions, including those benefiting from co-investment and co-financing, and to contribute to the identification of new opportunities for the use of submarine cables.

In addition to the Secretary of State for Infrastructures and representatives of the regional governments of the Azores and Madeira, MEO, NOS, NOWO and Vodafone, DSTelecom, Fibroglobal, REN Telecom, Tata Communications, Alcatel, Huawei, EMACOM, GLOBALEDA, ACIST, the Foundation for Science and Technology and the Portuguese Communications Foundation.