According to Paraguayan news site Ultima Hora, Paraguay’s state-owned telecoms operator Compania Paraguaya de Comunicaciones (Copaco) and its Bolivian counterpart Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel) and have signed an agreement relating to the interconnection of their respective fibre-optic networks. Work on the project will commence immediately, and the border link is expected to be ‘achieve interconnection’ within ten months. The two nations’ fibre-optics are set to interconnect in Puerto Sucre (Bolivia) and Mayor Infante Rivarola (Paraguay). According to the news report the Paraguayan side of the cable currently extends 322km, whereas the Bolivian infrastructure currently spans around 140km. An unnamed Paraguayan government source commented: ‘Both companies maintain bilateral relations on telecommunications and wish to increase the level of their relationship, for which the parties establish interconnection make the fibre through the Chaco between the borders of Paraguay and Bolivia’. Going forward, the two partners plan to expand their project to include other state-owned operators in the region, such as Brazilian fixed line operator Telecomunicacoes Brasileiras (Telebras) and Argentinean satellite provider Ar-Sat.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in August 2010 Copaco called for the Paraguayan government to back its proposals to lay a new cable link between Paraguay and its land-locked neighbour Bolivia, with a view to crossing the rest of the continent and entering the Pacific Ocean where it can link to an international submarine cable. Copaco chief Mario Esquivel requested a private meeting with Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo in order to stress the importance of the proposed link up, asserting that without the full participation of the Bolivian government it will be impossible to connect Paraguay to the submarine cable. By linking to the international fibre network, prohibitively expensive broadband prices could drop dramatically.