Chile and Brazil launch infrastructure to improve connectivity

The South American power-duo announced plans for a fiber optic circuit that will connect the region with its scientific and financial peers overseas.

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Over the last few years, Chile has been busy cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship and high levels of technological innovation, prompting some tech-insiders to dub it, “the Silicon Valley of Latin America.”

The Chilean minister of transportation and telecommunications, Pedro Pablo Errázuriz, has recently announced a new edge to catapult this South American business hub even higher: by joining Brazil to improve internet connectivity across the region.

During a recent visit to Brazil, Minister Errázuriz announced a joint Chile-Brazil fiber-optic circuit to streamline contact between South America and the United States and Europe, as well as an infrastructure investment to drive down the price of broadband internet.

The fiber-optic circuit should be finished by 2014, and according to preliminary studies, at least 50 percent of traffic will be coming from northern Chile’s cutting-edge astronomy centers.

Industry experts say that the infrastructure investment, meanwhile, could lead to broadband costs reducing by as much as 60 percent. Currently, two companies control the gateways through which all traffic between Chile and the world must pass: U.S. company Global Crossing and Chile’s Telefónica. Traffic costs an average of US$30 per megabyte.

“This will help us cut the cost of international broadband and public fees by half in Chile, improving connection quality and reaching effective speeds for national and international browsing,” Minister Errázuriz said in Brazil.

That’s good news for the rapidly growing number of cafés, parks and restaurants in Santiago where internet is free and open. And it’s especially good news for the next round of Start-Up Chile entrepreneurs who arrived in the country last month to launch the next set of ambitious new start-up companies as part of the government’s lauded seed-money program.