Brazilian Army Helps Bring Internet to Western Amazon

Brazilian Army Helps Bring Internet to Western Amazon

By Dialogo
April 20, 2015




The installation of the first fiber optic cable on the bed of the Rio Negro, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, is a first step towards internet connectivity in the country's Western Amazon.

The project, carried out April 7-8, is part of Amazônia Conectada (Connected Amazon), which seeks to bring the Internet to regions where this technology is rare or even nonexistent, installing five new information highways along the beds of the Negro, Solimões, Purus, Juruá and Madeira rivers. It will benefit 4 million people living in 52 municipalities, according to the head of the Amazônia Conectada Program and head of the of the Army Integrated Telematics Center (CITEx), Major General Decílio de Medeiros Sales.

“The intention is to cover the entire Western Amazon region over a span of 7,800 kilometers, where more than 90% of the population lives on the banks of rivers. The Army will only use one-thousandth of the installed fiber optic transmission capacity. This small amount is enough to meet the needs of the military in the region.”

The section where the cable was installed connects the Brazilian Army’s 4th Area Telematics Center (CTA) with its 4th Survey Division (DL). From April 8-22, in close partnership with other participating program institutions, the Military ground force has been monitoring the installed structure and the performance of the electronic transmission, and making any necessary adjustments for its optimal operation.

Program brings benefits for national defense and for the local population


The telecommunications infrastructure will serve the interests both of the Brazilian Army in its efforts to monitor the border through the Integrated Border Monitoring System (Sisfron), as well as that of the Amazonas State government, which will be able to bring systems managing the state’s public policies into the state's interior.

For the riverside communities, meanwhile, the arrival of broadband Internet connection will provide major benefits. With this technology, many services that now require a trip to the state capital will be able to be handled from the locality itself or from cities that are closer than Manaus.

High-speed Internet also will invigorate the economy and the tourist trade. Maj. Gen. Sales cited the example of banks, which will be able to use the Internet to better provide their services to residents of the Amazon and tourists who visit the region.

Municipalities such as São Gabriel da Cachoeira, located 852 kilometers from Manaus on the border with Colombia and Venezuela, and Benjamin Constant, bordering Peru and more than 1,600 kilometers from Manaus via river transport, will become connected to the World Wide Web.

Governance and sustainability model brings together various partners


Amazônia Conectada is an initiative of the Brazilian Army in partnership with the government of Amazonas State, the National Education and Research Network (RNP), the Amazonas Data Processing Company (PRODAM), and the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (IPAAM). Public and private companies are also taking part. This institutional arrangement seeks to ensure that the program has both governance and sustainability models.

“The Army is responsible for the installation of the fiber optic infrastructure in the rivers, but the provision of the services through the new technology will be handled by the agencies that operate the country’s communications system,” Maj. Gen. Sales explained.

The budget for the program is approximately 1 billion Brazilian reals ($330 million). The initial infrastructure construction phase, which is underway, received a 15 million reals ($ 4.88 million) investment from the Brazilian Army, through Sisfron. The financing necessary for ongoing work is expected to come from the federal and Amazonas State governments, as well as public and private organizations interested in using the infrastructure installed by the program.

Initial stage studies underwater river environment for better cable installation


The program’s initial phase – which corresponds with the installation of cable along a portion of the Rio Negro between the 4th CTA and the 4th DL – is being referred to as a “technology demonstrator.” The cable spans 7.5 kilometers in the river and approximately 2.5 additional kilometers over land. Maj. Gen. Sales explained that this stage is essential because it provides an opportunity to study an appropriate solution for managing the operational infrastructure.

“Underwater fiber optic transmission technology is already in use in the maritime environment, but the dynamic in river environments is less well known,” he said.

In addition, the Amazon is the only environment of its kind in the world, and each river has its own characteristics and behaves in certain ways. The Rio Negro, for example, has very dark waters and its bed has a complex relief. Therefore, the exploration and discovery phase is essential to ensuring that the infrastructure is installed in the safest and most effective manner. The infrastructure is intended to remain in place for 25 years.

After the initial phase is complete, probably by December, the program will begin its pilot project, which will cover a much greater distance of approximately 220 kilometers, passing through the Solimões River and connecting the cities of Coari and Tefé. The location was chosen because it allows for a continuation of the fiber optic infrastructure already in place between Manaus and the municipality of Coari.

The five information highways planned under the program are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Combatting drug trafficking along the border


The arrival of the telecommunications infrastructure to the triple border shared with Colombia and Peru will also allow for greater control over the entry of illicit goods into Brazil by improving the functionality of Sisfron. That Army project, which will install sensors at points along the border and use radar and aerial vehicles to monitor the region, relies mainly on the Internet to transmit information from its equipment.

Nearly 40 percent of the cocaine and crack that comes across the border into Brazil is from Peru, according to the 2013 UNODC World Drug Report. In addition, Brazil is an important transit point for cocaine trafficking mainly to Europe and West Africa.

The minimum annual cost of the violence associated with drug trafficking in Brazil is 54.2 billion reals ($17.7 million), according to the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) and the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

The investment of 1 billion reals ($330 million) for the Amazônia Conectada Program represents less than 2 percent of this cost, and the area benefiting from the arrival of the technology that will allow for closer monitoring of the border is located near the countries responsible for more than 80 percent of the world’s coca production (Peru and Colombia), the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.





The installation of the first fiber optic cable on the bed of the Rio Negro, in the Brazilian state of Amazonas, is a first step towards internet connectivity in the country's Western Amazon.

The project, carried out April 7-8, is part of Amazônia Conectada (Connected Amazon), which seeks to bring the Internet to regions where this technology is rare or even nonexistent, installing five new information highways along the beds of the Negro, Solimões, Purus, Juruá and Madeira rivers. It will benefit 4 million people living in 52 municipalities, according to the head of the Amazônia Conectada Program and head of the of the Army Integrated Telematics Center (CITEx), Major General Decílio de Medeiros Sales.

“The intention is to cover the entire Western Amazon region over a span of 7,800 kilometers, where more than 90% of the population lives on the banks of rivers. The Army will only use one-thousandth of the installed fiber optic transmission capacity. This small amount is enough to meet the needs of the military in the region.”

The section where the cable was installed connects the Brazilian Army’s 4th Area Telematics Center (CTA) with its 4th Survey Division (DL). From April 8-22, in close partnership with other participating program institutions, the Military ground force has been monitoring the installed structure and the performance of the electronic transmission, and making any necessary adjustments for its optimal operation.

Program brings benefits for national defense and for the local population


The telecommunications infrastructure will serve the interests both of the Brazilian Army in its efforts to monitor the border through the Integrated Border Monitoring System (Sisfron), as well as that of the Amazonas State government, which will be able to bring systems managing the state’s public policies into the state's interior.

For the riverside communities, meanwhile, the arrival of broadband Internet connection will provide major benefits. With this technology, many services that now require a trip to the state capital will be able to be handled from the locality itself or from cities that are closer than Manaus.

High-speed Internet also will invigorate the economy and the tourist trade. Maj. Gen. Sales cited the example of banks, which will be able to use the Internet to better provide their services to residents of the Amazon and tourists who visit the region.

Municipalities such as São Gabriel da Cachoeira, located 852 kilometers from Manaus on the border with Colombia and Venezuela, and Benjamin Constant, bordering Peru and more than 1,600 kilometers from Manaus via river transport, will become connected to the World Wide Web.

Governance and sustainability model brings together various partners


Amazônia Conectada is an initiative of the Brazilian Army in partnership with the government of Amazonas State, the National Education and Research Network (RNP), the Amazonas Data Processing Company (PRODAM), and the Amazonas Environmental Protection Institute (IPAAM). Public and private companies are also taking part. This institutional arrangement seeks to ensure that the program has both governance and sustainability models.

“The Army is responsible for the installation of the fiber optic infrastructure in the rivers, but the provision of the services through the new technology will be handled by the agencies that operate the country’s communications system,” Maj. Gen. Sales explained.

The budget for the program is approximately 1 billion Brazilian reals ($330 million). The initial infrastructure construction phase, which is underway, received a 15 million reals ($ 4.88 million) investment from the Brazilian Army, through Sisfron. The financing necessary for ongoing work is expected to come from the federal and Amazonas State governments, as well as public and private organizations interested in using the infrastructure installed by the program.

Initial stage studies underwater river environment for better cable installation


The program’s initial phase – which corresponds with the installation of cable along a portion of the Rio Negro between the 4th CTA and the 4th DL – is being referred to as a “technology demonstrator.” The cable spans 7.5 kilometers in the river and approximately 2.5 additional kilometers over land. Maj. Gen. Sales explained that this stage is essential because it provides an opportunity to study an appropriate solution for managing the operational infrastructure.

“Underwater fiber optic transmission technology is already in use in the maritime environment, but the dynamic in river environments is less well known,” he said.

In addition, the Amazon is the only environment of its kind in the world, and each river has its own characteristics and behaves in certain ways. The Rio Negro, for example, has very dark waters and its bed has a complex relief. Therefore, the exploration and discovery phase is essential to ensuring that the infrastructure is installed in the safest and most effective manner. The infrastructure is intended to remain in place for 25 years.

After the initial phase is complete, probably by December, the program will begin its pilot project, which will cover a much greater distance of approximately 220 kilometers, passing through the Solimões River and connecting the cities of Coari and Tefé. The location was chosen because it allows for a continuation of the fiber optic infrastructure already in place between Manaus and the municipality of Coari.

The five information highways planned under the program are expected to be completed by the end of 2017.

Combatting drug trafficking along the border


The arrival of the telecommunications infrastructure to the triple border shared with Colombia and Peru will also allow for greater control over the entry of illicit goods into Brazil by improving the functionality of Sisfron. That Army project, which will install sensors at points along the border and use radar and aerial vehicles to monitor the region, relies mainly on the Internet to transmit information from its equipment.

Nearly 40 percent of the cocaine and crack that comes across the border into Brazil is from Peru, according to the 2013 UNODC World Drug Report. In addition, Brazil is an important transit point for cocaine trafficking mainly to Europe and West Africa.

The minimum annual cost of the violence associated with drug trafficking in Brazil is 54.2 billion reals ($17.7 million), according to the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA) and the Brazilian Ministry of Justice.

The investment of 1 billion reals ($330 million) for the Amazônia Conectada Program represents less than 2 percent of this cost, and the area benefiting from the arrival of the technology that will allow for closer monitoring of the border is located near the countries responsible for more than 80 percent of the world’s coca production (Peru and Colombia), the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said.


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