Facebook, Google Reveal Apricot Undersea Cable For Asia

Two big name tech giants are putting their resources behind a new undersea cable that will connect Japan with other countries in south east Asia.

The new cable, expected sometime in 2024, is called the Apricot cable and is being delivered by Facebook and Google.

Apricot will connect span 12,000km (7,456 miles) and will connect Japan, Taiwan, Guam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. The firms say the new cable will increase capacity, redundancy and reliability in that fast growing region.

Apricot cable

Facebook for its part in its blog post said Apricot will complement Facebook’s other two subsea cables it announced in March (namely Echo and Bifrost), which will connect the United States with Indonesia via Singapore.

Google is also involved in the Echo cable.

“We are excited to announce our participation in the Apricot subsea cable system, together with leading regional and global partners,” said Facebook. “When completed, the project (which is still subject to regulatory approvals) will deliver much-needed internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability to expand connections in the Asia-Pacific region.”

Facebook said Apricot will feature a state of the art configuration allowing flexibility in trunk and branch capacity. It will have an initial design capacity of more than 190 terabits per second to meet rising data demands in the region and support existing cable systems.

The cable will help meet the growing demand for 4G, 5G, and broadband access in the region, said Facebook.

Meanwhile in a blog post by Bikash Koley, VP and head of Google Global Networking and head of technology and strategy, explained how 98 percent of international internet traffic is ferried around the world by subsea cables.

“The Echo and Apricot cables are complementary submarine systems that will offer benefits with multiple paths in and out of Asia, including unique routes through southern Asia, ensuring a significantly higher degree of resilience for Google Cloud and digital services,” wrote Koley.

“Together they’ll provide businesses and startups in Asia with lower latency, more bandwidth, and increased resilience in their connectivity between Southeast Asia, North Asia and the United States,” he added.

“Apricot joins Google’s global network of subsea cables, including Curie, Dunant, Equiano, Firmina and Grace Hopper, and consortium cables like JGA, INDIGO and Havfrue,” wrote Koley. “In total, we have investments in 18 subsea cables, alongside our 27 cloud regions and 82 zones around the world.”

Other cables

Facebook is also continuing to work with other cable plans in Asia and elsewhere, including working with the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), a 12,800 km cable funded by Facebook and Google parent Alphabet.

The cable met resistance from the US government under Donald Trump over plans to create a direct link from the US to Hong Kong, in addition to Taiwan and the Philippines, with regulators citing national security concerns.

Google, Facebook and Twitter in 2020 stopped processing requests for user data made by Hong Kong law enforcement authorities, because of a draconian security law enforced in the region by China.

Facebook said earlier in March that it would drop plans for the PLCN to link California and Hong Kong due to “ongoing concerns from the US government about direct communication links between the United States and Hong Kong”.

2Africa cable

Facebook also said this week it is expanding an undersea cable network for Africa.

Announced in 2020, the 2Africa cable, is to gain four more landings for what is being described as the “most comprehensive” subsea cable to serve the African continent and Middle East region.

Facebook is working with a consortium that includes China Mobile International, MTN GlobalConnect, Orange, STC, Telecom Egypt, Vodafone and WIOCC.

The new branches for the cable will be Seychelles, the Comoros Islands, Angola and the south-eastern part of Nigeria. This is in addition to the recently announced extension to the Canary Islands.

The 2Africa cable is a large undertaking, as it will lay 37,000 km (22,990 miles) of undersea cables. These cables will Europe, via Egypt, and the Middle East, via Saudi Arabia, and 21 landings in 16 African countries.

It is expected to be completed either by 2023 or early 2024.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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