VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada, Dec. 20 -- The first direct fiber optic connection between the US and Venezuela will be provided by 360Networks' 360americas network, the company said. The company has recently installed the 360americas cable near Caracas, Venezuela, which connects Venezuela with Boca Raton, Fla., and Tuckerton, N.J., via a 4700-km undersea fiber optic cable. It is scheduled to enter commercial service by the middle of March 2001.Upon scheduled completion in early 2002, 360americas will span 29,000 kilometers and provide direct connectivity between major cities in the US, Bermuda, Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela. The total capacity of the network will be 1.28 Tb/s. This is sufficient capacity to handle 16 million simultaneous telephone calls or send 1.3 million digital photographs per second, the company said. We are very pleased to be the first to provide a direct link between the United States and Venezuela, said Scott Lyons, vice president of the submarine division at 360networks. A significant number of data and telecommunications service providers are looking to access Venezuela as a result of the recent deregulation of the region's telecommunications market. We are well-positioned to provide these carriers seamless access between Venezuela and our global network.