The EllaLink transatlantic fibre optic cable, co-funded by the EU through the BELLA programme, was inaugurated on 1 June 2021 at the ‘Leading the Digital Decade’ event.
“The transatlantic cable, supported by the EU though the BELLA programme, is a concrete and powerful symbol of the reinforced partnership between the EU and Latin America. For the first time we will have a direct, secure and high-speed digital connection linking the two sides of the Atlantic”, said Helena König, Deputy Secretary General of the European External Action Service. “Apart from its geostrategic value, bringing two like-minded regions closer together, the launch of the submarine cable shows what the EU and LAC can achieve by partnering on digital transformation. The cable will strengthen the digital dimension of our partnership, stimulating research, innovation and jobs to the benefit of citizens of both regions.”
Linking Fortaleza in Brazil with Sines in Portugal, the 6000 km submarine fibre optic cable will enable the first direct, high-capacity data connection between the two continents to support research and education data exchange.
The programme will bring unprecedented opportunities for scientific, cultural and business exchanges:
- BELLA will support the long-term interconnectivity needs of European and Latin American research and education communities for the next 25 years. 65 million users in more than 12,000 institutions in Europe and Latin America will be reached through BELLA.
- For the digital and space sector, BELLA will facilitate access to the space data provided by the Copernicus programme and by large facilities on both continents (e.g. astronomical and cosmic ray observatories in Latin America, the Large Hadron Collider in Europe).
- Companies from the EU and LAC will benefit from BELLA to further develop the data economy, notably in the fields of cloud computing and telemedicine, and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, High Performance Computing, Earth Observation, epidemiological monitoring and COVID treatments.
- BELLA will facilitate the sharing of high performance computing and Earth observation data between the two regions.
What is the BELLA programme?
The inauguration of the transatlantic cable represents a milestone in bi-regional relations, and will deliver on the political promise of bringing EU and Latin America closer together. The idea of digitally connecting the two continents received political support at the last EU-LAC summit in 2015. Today, connectivity and closing the digital gap are key priorities for a closer EU-LAC digital partnership.
The EU deployed €26.5 million through the BELLA programme so far, as part of an international cooperation effort bringing together governments, public bodies and companies from the EU and partner countries in Latin America.
The BELLA programme consists of two components - the BELLA-S and BELLA-T. BELLA-S is the new submarine cable and will be inaugurated on 1 June. BELLA-T focuses on South America, connecting Brazil, through the cities of Fortaleza, Sao Paulo and Porto Alegre; Argentina, through Buenos Aires; Chile, through Santiago; Ecuador, through Guayaquil; Colombia, through Bogotá and Cúcuta to the border with Venezuela, and Cartagena.