Pacific Undersea Cable Faces National Security Concerns

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Undersea cable funded by Google and Facebook faces DoJ national security concerns over a Chinese investor

US officials are reportedly seeking to block an undersea cable that connects Los Angeles to Hong Kong.

The Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) cable, which is currently in the process of being built, has been funded by Google and Facebook, and a Chinese investor called Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co.

According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), citing people involved in the discussion, reported that the cable is being opposed by the US Justice Department (DoJ).

Pacific cable

The DoJ, which leads a multi-agency review panel known as Team Telecom, is opposed to the cable because of national security concerns over its Chinese investor and the direct link to Hong Kong.

It is reported that much of the nearly 8,000 mile long Pacific Light Cable Network has already been installed along the seafloor of the Pacific Ocean.

Commercial service is only slated for the end of the year.

The PLCN cable was first touted back in 2016 as the highest capacity transpacific connection to date.

It is designed to offer greater bandwidth, thanks to “state-of-the-air C+L band optical technology and open cable structure”.

Google said in 2016 that it invested in the cable to enhance its public cloud infrastructure, which comprises data centres, terrestrial networks and subsea connections.

But the PLCN cable is facing the real threat of not being granted a licence by the Team Telecom, which it needs in order to operate, the WSJ reported, citing people familiar with the review.

If the license application is rejected, this would be the first time the US has denied an undersea cable license because of national security, the WSJ reported.

Google declined to comment on the report and Facebook and the Pacific Light Data Communications Co have not responded to media to requests for comment.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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