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Adalberto Pessoa (Sedet): The Hyper Connected Ceará

08:06 20 de November de 2022 Por Daniel Oiticica

Adalberto Pessoa, special advisor on attracting investments for Commerce, Services and Innovation at Sedet

Ceará occupies a prominent position in the global hub of fiber optic submarine cables. For logistical reasons due to its geographical position, the state started to attract global communications companies that were looking somewhere to become a distribution point for their digital services. In this interview, Adalberto Pessoa, Sedet’s special advisor for attracting investments for Commerce, Services, and Innovation, details, among other subjects, the reason why Ceará became one of the most connected places in the world and the businesses benefited by this broad technological capacity.

How did Ceará become a major center for submarine cable connections in the world?
With the advent of the internet, the big global communications companies started to look for places that could become distribution points for their digital services. Analyzing the logistical issue, the geographical position of Ceará was one of the main factors to attract these organizations. Because of its location, the state became, in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, a confluence point for submarine cables connecting Brazil, South America, Africa, Europe, Central America, and the North American East Coast. With the large-scale growth in the use of the internet, the number of telecom operators that started to have their “land stations” here in Ceará increased, reaching the current level that places Fortaleza as the second most connected city by submarine cables in the world, 16 of which are in the Praia do Futuro region. There is projected expansion in the coming years with two more cables planned.

Is there room to install new cables?
Increasingly, the need for bandwidth increases, which needs greater communication capacity and more investments in digital infrastructure. In this sense, Ceará has become a data route for neighboring federal units and part of the northern region of the country. With the advent of 5G, this demand will increase, requiring increased investments. As well as the communication infrastructure, Ceará has sought to attract other links in the ICT production chain, which involve datacenters, cloud service providers and solution providers. The strengthening of these activities causes the demand for connectivity to grow at an accelerated rate. Thus, Ceará becomes not only a paradise for the winds, but also for those companies that need connectivity and IT infrastructure.

What advantages does this reality bring to Ceará?
Under these conditions, Ceará becomes globally important in data communication. The entire South Atlantic Hemisphere depends on the existing connections from our State. In this way, telecom companies set up their digital logistics stations here, generating investments, as well as income and highly qualified jobs. Another very important factor is that, as we are a data communication hub in this market, we have enormous competitive advantages in attracting other sectors participating in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) production chain, such as ISP companies, data center structures, and large global cloud service providers.

What impact does the activity of this market bring to Ceará?
In parallel with this global connectivity, represented by the external data communication hub, Ceará began to invest, in 2008, in the construction of an internal infrastructure, which would distribute the external communication capacity to the internal environment, besides connecting the state to its municipalities. Currently, Ceará has more than 140,000 km of fiber optics, composed of backbone, backhaul and last mile structures, being the most connected state in Brazil. To have an idea, from 2015 to 2022, about 500 new, small internet access providers emerged, which, with their operation in the state, generated more than 5,000 jobs. This activity resulted in a turnover of more than 1.5 billion Reals (about 283 million US dollars) per year. With internet access expanding in Ceará, more than 2 million people have achieved digital inclusion. Here, the cost of Mbps for data transport is about 3 Reals (about 0.56 dollars) per Mbps, a value more than 20 times lower than it was five years ago and, at the same time, one of the lowest in Brazil. This market generates numerous social and economic benefits. With this abundance of connectivity, Ceará can count on the availability of data communication infrastructure for any company that wants to set up in the state, as well as the capacity to internalize investments, with the power to decentralize the economy, reducing regional economic imbalances. Another benefit that leadership in this segment brings to the state is the offer of better quality public and private services in the areas of education, health, security, and management, for example. This measure reduces the flight of people to large cities.

What are the benefits for investors who want to set up in Ceará to enter this market?
Global telecom companies or companies that operate internally are currently co-opted by this excess of connectivity present in Ceará. The datacenter industry is also strongly attracted by this environment, considering the offer of connectivity in the home, and low cost and better risk management. Disaster recovery datacenter structures are expected to grow, as the state is a confluence point between the North American East Coast, Central America, Africa, Europe and the Atlantic Coast of South America. Another class of niche datacenters that should gain more and more space are datacenters for mining blockchains. Ceará, as well as connectivity itself, has a great potential for renewable energy generation. Datacenters are large energy consumers, and all these large groups are migrating their energy matrix to use only clean energy, which gives the State a great competitive edge. Large cloud service providers are attracted for the same reasons and with the aim of making their activities available to neighboring continents, offering businesses with low latency, lower costs and better risk management. The entire economy benefits from these conditions, causing companies to be attracted to operating in an environment with a large offer of connectivity, high availability of services, lower costs, with workforce qualification, as well as a privileged ecosystem for companies that intensively need digital logistics and cloud infrastructure. large BOO and call center companies are an example, which are attracted on a large scale to Ceará.