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Google and Facebook shelve US-China subsea cable plan

Written by Mon 10 Feb 2020

Tech giants submit modified proposals that stop in the Philippines and Taiwan

Plans for a subsea cable system linking Los Angeles directly to China and Hong Kong have been abandoned over concerns about a third-party backer’s ties to Beijing.

Google and Facebook applied to the US regulator, the FCC, for more modest plans for the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), that stop in the Philippines and Taiwan, three years after the tech giants announced what would have been the first submarine cable to directly connect Hong Kong to the US.

It is understood that US security authorities intervened over concerns that PLDC, the biggest backer of the project, could be more easily influenced by the Chinese government after it was sold to a Beijing-based broadband provider.

According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials set about derailing the project last year, two years after Hong Kong steel and property magnate Wei Junkang sold most of his stake in PLDC to Dr Peng Telecom & Media Group in 2017.

PLDC owns four of the system’s fibre pairs, according to TechCrunch’s Mark Harris. Harris said Dr Peng’s dealings with Huawei and the Chinese government troubled US security hawks. PLDC has worked on a number of projects for the government, including a surveillance network for the Beijing police.

While the cable has been mostly laid, Team Telecom, the US security unit that has the final say over whether US data can be transmitted across cable systems, has not consented to its activation.

With the project seemingly stuck in the mud, the cable subsidaries of Google and Facebook, GU Holdings and Edge Cable Holdings USA, have submitted more limited proposals to the FCC. Google’s wants to send its data to Taiwan, and Facebook to the Philippines.

In the applications, the companies state that they will run the fibres separately and without PLDC. However, Mark Harris observed that the data will still have to flow via the New Cross Pacific Cable (NCP). NCP is controlled by China Mobile, another company about which US security authorities have expressed concerns.

Via: DCD

Written by Mon 10 Feb 2020


China politics US
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