Facebook, Alphabet Team Up To Boost Southeast Asia Connectivity

Facebook, Alphabet Team Up To Boost Southeast Asia Connectivity
<a href="https://pixabay.com/users/GraphicsSC/">GraphicsSC</a> / Pixabay

Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) are teaming up with local telecommunication companies in Singapore and Indonesia to increase internet connectivity in the region. The companies are planning new undersea cables to connect America with Southeast Asia.

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Facebook, Google plan undersea cables

A Facebook executive told Reuters today that the two cables will be called Bifrost and Echo and will be the first two cables to pass through a new route crossing in the Java Sea. He estimated that the cables would boost subsea capacity in the trans-Pacific region by approximately 70%.

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Facebook Vice President of Network Investments Kevin Salvadori did not say how much Facebook is investing in the project. However, he did say it was “a material investment for us in Southeast Asia.”

He added that the cables would be the first to provide a direct connection between North America and some of Indonesia’s main areas. They will also increase connectivity for Indonesia’s eastern and central provinces. The country is the fourth most populous one in the world.

More details on the cables

According to Salvadori, Facebook is teaming up with Google and Indonesian telecom company XL Axiata to build the cable called Echo. It should be finished by 2023. The social networking giant is teaming up with Telin, a subsidiary of Telkom in Indonesia, and Keppel, a conglomerate in Singapore, to build Bifrost. It is scheduled to be finished by 2024.

Both cables will require regulatory approval, and they extend Facebook’s previous efforts to boost connectivity in Indonesia, one of its top five markets. Although 73% of the Indonesian population of 270 million are online, more than 90% access the web using mobile data, while less than 10% have a broadband connection, according to a survey conducted last year by the Indonesian Internet Providers Association.

Facebook expands in Southeast Asia

Facebook has been expanding into Southeast Asia for some time. The social networking giant is continuing its subsea plans globally and in Asia, including with the Pacific Light Cable Network. Salvadori said they are “working with partners and regulators to meet all of the concerns that people have.”

Facebook and Alphabet are funding the PLCN, which will be 12,800 kilometers long when it’s completed. The U.S. government opposed the network due to its plans for a conduit to Hong Kong. Originally, it was planned to connect the United States with Hong Kong, the Philippines and Taiwan. Facebook said earlier this month that it would not build the cable connecting Hong Kong with California.

Facebook is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families.

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