The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and the Latin American Development Bank/CAF have unveiled a plan to build a fiber optic cable network which will increase broadband speed and bring down Internet service costs across the region.
Before embarking on the construction, UNASUR will assess existing broadband infrastructure and the obstacles hindering the expansion of telecom firms. If built, this will be the first fiber optic network solely financed by Latin American institutions.
UNASUR has set aside US$1.5 million as an initial investment in the project. Over the coming weeks it will commission a study to figure out the technical issues and the required institutional framework for the project.
“This will have a positive impact on industry and commerce,” stated Unasur Secretary-General Ernesto Samper in a press release issued in the Uruguayan capital of Montevideo, where UNASUR signed the agreement with the regional development bank earlier this week.
The blueprint of the project will be prepared only after 30 months of study.
According to Samper, Internet download speeds in South America average just 2.32 Mbps (megabits per second), while advanced countries are enjoying more than 17 Mbps speed. He went on to say that broadband prices in the region are 20 times costlier than in developed countries.
To make the project a success, every country in South America will need to coordinate and alter their telecom policies accordingly. “This is a fundamental issue in the growth and unity of the twelve member countries of UNASUR,” Samper added.