Argentine state-owned satellite company Arsat has called a public tender for the rollout of the federal fibre-optic backbone project in Eastern Patagonia under the government’s ‘Argentina Conectada’ plan, reports TeleSemana. According to the Ministry of Planning, Public Investment and Services, the work will cover an area of 1,583km from the town of Puerto Madryn (Chubut) to San Antonio Oeste (Rio Negro) and from Rio Gallegos (Santa Cruz) to Rawson (Chubut). TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database states that the government launched a national connectivity plan in October 2010 to bring high speed internet access and free digital TV to regions outside the reach of existing networks, in a bid to redress the lack of broadband connectivity in rural areas. The project, known as Argentina Conectada, involves the deployment of 80,000km of fibre-optic cable by Arsat in rural and unprofitable areas to complement the existing infrastructure of incumbent telcos. The implementation of Argentina Conectada will require total government investment of around ARS8 billion (USD1.9 billion) over three years and is expected to bring internet access to 85% of the population.