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Sines: the (huge) potential to become a world reference technological hub

04-04-2022

Sines is the "Hidden Gem of Connectivity", says Deloitte. EllaLink is already there with its submarine cable, contributing to the region becoming the new "Ashburn".

Portugal has all the conditions to become a technological hub of reference worldwide. Sines, in particular, has all the conditions for the birth of a new "Ashburn", in Portuguese lands. A Deloitte study defines Sines, and the Start Campus to be born there, as the "Hidden Jewel of Connectivity".
For years it has been said that Portugal has

  • the talent;
  • the infrastructure;
  • the skills;
  • high proficiency in foreign languages;
  • social stability;
  • political stability;
  • and much more.

These arguments alone are compelling arguments for multinationals to set up their data centres or nearshore services in Portugal.

But now there is more. The strong private and public investment in the Sines Tech Innovation Center has reinforced this potential, increasing the weighty arguments to call for investment in Portugal:

  • direct access to renewable energy;
  • access to submarine cable landing stations from various entities, including EllaLink's;
  • absence of construction constraints;
  • area certified as suitable for data centre construction;
  • availability of water for cooling the facilities;
  • simplified submarine cable licensing process with recourse to a single responsible government entity.

In addition, Portugal

  • has a unique geostrategic position, with a long coastal strip;
  • It is in a central position in relation to other continents. It is in Europe, halfway between the American and African continents and, via the Mediterranean, has access to the Middle East and Asia;
  • It has an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 1.7 million square kilometers.

In short, Portugal meets all the conditions to become the EU-Atlantic Data Gateway Platform, as Hugo Santos Mendes, Assistant Secretary of State and Communications, stated at the meeting "Meetings at ZILS: Sines Tech, EU-Atlantic Data Gateway Platform. In fact, at that meeting many were the advantages pointed out by experts for the development of Sines as a technology centre.

Deloitte: Portugal must take advantage of the explosion in data consumption to become a global player

Meanwhile, Deloitte published a study that confirms everything that has been said about Sines and Portugal. The study was presented by Start Campus at the Pacific Telecommunications Council (PTC) held in Honolulu, Hawaii.

The "hidden gem of connectivity" has everything to respond to the European data strategy. Portugal has a unique set of conditions to connect Europe to markets such as North America, South America, Africa, and the Middle East/Asia.

After all, the volume of data worldwide has been increasing exponentially. Deloitte says that the amount of data created, consumed, and stored is expected to exceed 180 zettabytes by 2025, 90 times the amount of data in 2010.

It is necessary for Europe to play a more relevant role in connectivity since much of this traffic does not yet pass through the Old Continent. And Portugal has the unique conditions to attract the biggest technology players that need to expand their offer in the global data market, says Deloitte.

A new vision of connectivity in Europe is currently underway, supported by funding of one billion euros, under the Connecting Europe Facility project.

Through the Connecting Europe Facility project it is intended to:

  • Build an infrastructure to address data dependency on other major hubs in the US and Asia;
  • Benefit countries that are a good base for global submarine cable connections and have dense terrestrial connectivity with their European peers.

Portugal should seize this opportunity and improve its communication and outreach strategy to become a focus for the big connectivity and data centre players. After all, it already meets the conditions, mentioned above.

And Sines presents itself as a perfect location. The first steps are already being taken. For example, the Portuguese government supports new investment projects by accelerating the licensing process.

Fortunately, some internationally renowned players have already realized the potential. A new generation of undersea cables is already being deployed by Google (due to be operational in 2022) and Facebook (launch planned: 2023) or the Medusa system connecting North Africa via the Mediterranean, in addition, of course, to the EllaLink undersea cable with a capacity of 100 terabytes per second and seven fibre pairs anchored in Sines, four of which directly connect South America to Europe.

The EllaLink network has been specifically designed to address the increasing demand for a new low latency route between Europe and LatAm.

Altogether, there are 800 terabytes per second of additional capacity with low latency and connection to the main global hubs passing through Portugal.

It is the first step for Sines to become the new Ashburn, a city in Virginia, USA, that grew around data centres and submarine cable landings. These investments in Ashburn have attracted other technology companies, and infrastructure with hospitals and universities is already available. Curious: see why Ashburn is the data centre capital of the world and imagine all this being replicated in Sines.

The conditions are right for Green Giants (large 100% sustainable hyperscaler data centres) to set up in Portugal, particularly in Sines, where EllaLink already is.

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