The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has agreed Google can be allowed to operate a portion of an undersea internet cable running between the US and Taiwan.
Funded in part by Google and Facebook, the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) connects Los Angeles to Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan. Until now, US regulators have blocked its activation over fears the project could jeopardise national security.
Approaching capacity in the APAC region, Google submitted an appeal on the grounds it would face significant premiums if required to route traffic through other systems, which would diminish the value of recent capital investments in the US.
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The tech giant claims it has, “an immediate need to meet internal demand for capacity between the US and Taiwan, in particular to connect Google’s Taiwan data center to Google data centers in the United States and to serve users throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”
Pacific Light Cable Network
Announced in 2016, PLCN was originally billed as the first undersea web cable to connect the US and Hong Kong. The fibre optic cable network boasts 12,800km of cabling and an estimated capacity of 120TB per second, which would make it the highest capacity trans-Pacific route.
In response to Google’s appeal, the FCC has granted the company permission to run the US to Taiwan portion of the submarine cable for six months, while it awaits a final decision on the activation of the PLCN.
However, sections running to Hong Kong will remain inactive amidst security fears and ongoing conflict between Washington and Beijing. Regulators also harbour concerns about the involvement of Dr Peng Telecom & Media Group in the project - a company with strong links to embattled Chinese tech firm Huawei.
Google celebrated the FCC’s decision and added that its “dedicated global network deployment and operations team is continually increasing capacity to meet the needs of our users.”
According to the FCC, Google will also “pursue diversification of interconnection points in Asia” as part of the temporary agreement.
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