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US approves Google request to use US-Asia undersea cable for data traffic
Posted on 9th April 2020
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Wednesday approved Alphabet Inc unit Google's request to use part of a US-Asia undersea telecommunications cable after the company warned it would face significantly higher prices to carry traffic by other means.

Google agreed to operate a portion of the 8,000-mile Pacific Light Cable Network System between the United States and Taiwan, but not Hong Kong. Google and Facebook Inc helped to pay for construction of the now completed telecommunications link, but US regulators have blocked its use.

The Justice Department earlier told the FCC in a petition it supported Google's revised request. The agency said US agencies believe "there is a significant risk that the grant of a direct cable connection between the United States and Hong Kong would seriously jeopardize the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States."

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, whose relations with the United States have soured over the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, trade disputes and security concerns.

In a statement, Google thanked the FCC for approving its request and added: "dedicated global network deployment and operations team is continually increasing capacity to meet the needs of our users, and that includes our sub-sea cable system."

The FCC is allowing Google to operate the segment for the next six months.

Google told regulators earlier this year 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."

It added that without that "capacity, the value of large, recent capital investments Google has made in the United States is significantly reduced."

The Justice Department also added that without temporary authority "Google would likely have to seek alternative capacity at significantly higher prices."

Google has also agreed to "pursue diversification of interconnection points in Asia," as well as to establish network facilities that deliver traffic "as close as practicable" to its ultimate destination.

The United States has expressed concerns about China's role in handling network traffic and potential for espionage. Around 300 sub-sea cables form the backbone of the internet by carrying 99% of the world's data traffic.

Meanwhile, a Facebook affiliate also sought FCC approval to use a portion of the cable connecting the Philippines to the United States to handle the traffic. "We are navigating through all the appropriate channels on licensing and permitting," the company said on Wednesday.

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