Google and Facebook drop plans to connect U.S. with Hong Kong through undersea cable

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Google Facebook Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) undersea fiber optic cable from the United States to Hong Kong dropped after FCC raises objections

Google and Facebook’s collaboration called Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) had planned to lay a fiber-optic underwater cable between Los Angles and Hong Kong. The plan could have provided faster Internet and mobile connection between China and the US but FCC has red-flagged the proposed Google Facebook venture saying China could use it to steal data.

As per reports, the proposed fiber-optic undersea cable will no longer land in the Chinese administrative region. This comes just a month after major U.S. based tech companies including Google, Facebook and Twitter confirmed last month they had stopped processing requests for user data made by Hong Kong law enforcement authorities, because of draconian security law in the region.

The PLDC and PLCN consortium consisted of many US and China-based companies but chief among them were Google, Facebook, and a China-based broadband provider called Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co. The project was first announced in 2016. At that time, Google said the cable would “provide enough capacity for Hong Kong to have 80 million concurrent HD video conference calls with Los Angeles”. The PLCN was intended to not only just connect Los Angeles and Hong Kong, but also connect the US to both Taiwan and the Philippines.

To use the cable, however, both PLDC and PLCN need permission from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) which FCC has now denied. The new plans submitted by PLDC and PLCN o the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suggest that the cable will work only between Los Angles and the Philippines/Taiwan. The new plans do not mention Hong Kong at all.

Readers should note that a large part of this mega fiber optic link 12,800 km (8,000 miles) long cable has already been laid so Los Angles is connected to Hong Kong in a way. But without the FCC go-ahead, the Hong Kong section cannot be activated.  and will remain as a ‘dark’ unused section of undersea cabling.

“We can confirm that the original application for the PLCN cable system has been withdrawn, and a revised application for the US-Taiwan and US-Philippines portions of the system has been submitted,” a spokeswoman for Google told the BBC.

“We continue to work through established channels to obtain cable landing licenses for our undersea cables.”

Another fiber-optic cable between the UK, US, and Spain called the ‘Grace Hopper’ will now run from New York and split off to Bilbao in Spain and Cornwall in the UK.

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