Snapshot: Ecuador’s submarine and satellite projects

Published: Thursday, July 01, 2021

Employees of ERDF (Electricity Network Distribution France) and Louis Dreyfus company install an electric submarine cable and optical fiber between Quiberon and Belle-Ile-en-mer, western France, on March 11, 2015. The underwatered power line of 15km is installed by ERDF to connect the Brittany island of Belle-Ile-en-mer inhabited by 5000 people. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD / AFP PHOTO / JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD

Ecuador is gradually increasing its data transmission capacity with new satellites and a growing number of submarine cable projects connecting to the country.

Overall, the country has six submarine cable projects under development or already in operation, the majority owned by carriers or a consortium of carriers.

Although this is more than the five cables active or under development connecting its southern neighbor Peru, it is still a long way behind countries like Colombia or Brazil, which have 12 and 17 cables in operation or under construction, according to data compiled by the Submarine Cables Map platform.

Ecuador’s telecom regulator Arcotel released a report with the latest data on satellite and undersea cable services in the country.

According to the country’s regulations, the license to operate submarine cables is initially valid for 20 years for both private and public companies or consortia, either national or international.

For satellites, the permit is for 15 or 20 years, depending on the type of company and whether it already has a prior license or not.

BNamericas takes a look at both of these segments.


Ecuador was first connected to the global cable network in 1999, through the Pan American (PAN-AM) system.

PAN-AM is a 7,225km route owned by a consortium of telecom operators and private players (AT&TTelefonica del PerúSoftbank CorpTelecom Italia Sparkle, CANTV, Tata Communications, Telefónica de Argentina, Telstra, VerizonEntel ChileTelecom ArgentinaTelconetInstituto Costarricense de ElectricidadC&W NetworksEmbratel and CNT).

In 2007, the country received its second international connection, the South America-1 (SAm-1), a 25,000-km cable connecting the US with Central and South America.

SAm-1 is owned by Telefónica‘s infrastructure subsidiary Telxius.

Finally, in 2015 Ecuador was connected directly with Panama from Manta through the Pacific Cable Caribbean Cable System (PCCS).

On the Atlantic coast of Panama, the system runs to the Caribbean Islands and up to the Florida coast. Overall, including the Ecuador-Panama Pacific stretch, the entire PCCS is 6,000km long. 

The owners include C&W Networks, Telconet, Setar, United Telecommunication Services (UTS), Telxius and GoldConnect.

According to Arcotel, these three submarine cables in full operation have 12 subscribers in Ecuador.


The three new projects include the South Pacific Cable System (SPCS), or Mistral, jointly developed by América Móvil and Telxius and running 7,300km from Puerto San José in Guatemala to Valparaíso in Chile, with landing points in Salinas (Ecuador) Lurín (Peru) and Arica (Chile). 

Construction of the cable was commissioned by Subcom and SPCS went live in June.

There is also the Galapagos Cable System, which will link the Galapagos archipelago to continental Ecuador in Manta, spanning 1,280km. GCS is owned by a company of the same name based in the Galapagos and with Jhon Hibbard, a former Telecom Australia, OTC and Telstra executive, as the leading project developer.

The company won a call held by CNT to operate the cable, beating competition from Telxius and Huawei Marine.

GCS is due to go live in the first quarter of 2022 and is expected to boost capacity to the Galapagos Islands tenfold. The cable is being built by IT Telecom with equipment provided by Xtera.

Finally, the AURORA cable system, owned by FP Telecommunications (FPT), will run 5,500km from West Florida to Manta, with landing points in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, the Cayman Islands and Colombia

Construction was commissioned to Nokia‘s Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN). The project’s total budget is US$310mn and AURORA is expected to be ready for service in the fourth quarter of 2022.

According to Arcotel, as of September 2019, three companies were formally registered with Arcotel for the provision of submarine cable capacity in Ecuador: 

Telefónica International Wholesale Services/Telxius, Ecuador’s publicly-owned telco CNT and Cable Andino (Corpandino).


Meanwhile, 13 companies were licensed for the provision of space capacity in Ecuador as of September 2019.

They were Hispasat, New Skies Satellites, Satelites Mexicanos, Telesat Network Services, Panamsat de México, DTVLA (Directv), Inmarsat, 03B, Iridium del Ecuador, Telesat International, Axesat Ecuador, Telesat Canada and Puntonet.

Read the rest of the original coverage from BN Americas at

Informing and sharing news on marine life, flora, fauna and conservation in the Galápagos Islands since 2017
© SOS Galápagos, 2021


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