Facebook abandons plans for undersea web cable to Hong Kong

Undersea Cable
(Image credit: Shuterstock / Christoph Burgstedt)

Facebook (opens in new tab) has abandoned its plans to lay more than 8,000 miles of fiber-optic cable between California and Hong Kong following pressure from US national security officials.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal (opens in new tab), the social media giant's Hong Kong-Americas (HKA) project would have provided companies with greater bandwidth to a major internet hub.

A Facebook spokesperson explained to the news outlet that the HKA project will be reconfigured to better meet the concerns of the US government in a statement, saying:

“Due to ongoing concerns from the U.S. government about direct communications links between the United States and Hong Kong, we have decided to withdraw our FCC application. We look forward to working with all the parties to reconfigure the system to meet the concerns of the U.S. Government.”

HKA project

Originally proposed in 2018, the HKA project was put forth by a consortium that included Facebook, China Telecom (opens in new tab) and several other Chinese companies. The project's goal was to lay fiber-optic cable on the ocean floor which would connect two sites in California with a site in Hong Kong as well as with a site in Taiwan.

Despite the growing need for additional international bandwidth between the US and China, several undersea cable (opens in new tab) proposals have been withdrawn by Facebook over the course of the last six months. 

In September of last year, the company withdrew its proposal for a undersea cable called the Pacific Light Cable Network (opens in new tab) (PLCN) it was working with Google on due to national security concerns from the Trump administration. During that same month though, Facebook also withdrew a proposal with Amazon (opens in new tab) to create the Bay to Bay Express Cable which would link San Francisco with Hong Kong.

Both of these withdraws were the result of a Department of Justice (opens in new tab) committee recommending against a direct link to Hong Kong to the FCC at a time when China is cracking down on the special administrative region.

The need for additional bandwidth has only grown in the time since but we likely won't see any new undersea cables connecting the US to China until both countries improve their relations with one another.

Via Business Insider (opens in new tab)

Anthony Spadafora

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.