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Chile has opted for a Japanese-planned trans-Pacific cable that circumvents China during a time of political turmoil

Last week, the Chilean government announced plans for the development of its Transoceanic Cable, a route that will span the Pacific to connect Chile to Oceania.
 
Chile hopes that the 13,180 km cable, which will link Chile to Sydney and Auckland will lead to the South American nation becoming a digital giant on the home continent. Bidding for the contract is set to begin next year, with initial investment in the project is estimated to be around $500 million.
 
“This is the first initiative that will connect the region with Oceania and finally with Asia, opening enormous opportunities for Chile to become the Digital Hub of South America on the Pacific side, making it an attraction for various investments such as data centres and related to digital commerce,” said minister of transport and telecommunications, Gloria Hutt.
 
The exact plans for the cable follow a Japanese proposal, which suggested Australia and New Zealand as landing targets since they will require the shortest cable deployment while providing excellent interconnectivity – Australia, in particular, is a major junction for various subsea cables throughout Oceania and Asia, including one from Tokyo that has been operational since July. This is also expected to give Japanese companies an edge when it comes to related equipment contracts –  NEC, for example, is already a major supplier for subsea cables.
 
This proposal supersedes a Chinese plan, which posited Shanghai as the final destination for the cable. Huawei had previously pledged their support for such a project and it was one of the topics of discussion when Chilean President Sebastian Pinera visited Beijing last year.
 
While the Chilean government’s decision to back the Japanese plan is grounded in solid logistical concerns, inflamed politics surrounding China this year are sure to have played a role. Driven primarily (but not always) by US pressure, tensions with China have already begun to have an impact on the world of submarine connectivity; earlier this year, the Pacific Light Cable Network connecting the US to Asia, funded by Google and Facebook, was only partially lit, excluding its Chinese connections, to appease the US government.
 
 
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