Facebook and Google are planning new submarine cables to connect Southeast Asia and America

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: This image shows a 3D printed Facebook logo on a keyboard

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By Fanny Potkin and Aradhana Aravindan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Facebook (NASDAQ 🙂 on Monday planned two new undersea cables to connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America in a project with Google and regional telecommunications companies to increase internet connection capacity between the regions.

“Named Echo and Bifrost, these will be the first two cables to take a new and varied route across the Java Sea and will increase total underwater capacity in the Trans-Pacific by approximately 70%,” said Kevin, vice president of Network Investments on Facebook Salvadori, Reuters said.

He declined to disclose the size of the investment, but said it was “a very substantial investment for us in Southeast Asia”.

The cables will be the first to directly connect North America to some of the main parts of Indonesia, according to the executive, and improve connectivity for the central and eastern provinces of the world’s fourth largest country.

Salvadori said Echo is being built in partnership with Alphabet (NASDAQ 🙂 ‘s Google and Indonesian telecommunications company XL Axiata and should be completed by 2023.

Bifrost, which is being carried out in collaboration with Telin, a subsidiary of Indonesia’s Telkom, and the Singaporean conglomerate Keppel (OTC :), is expected to be completed by 2024.

The two cables, which require regulatory approval, follow Facebook’s previous investments to build connectivity in Indonesia, one of the world’s top five markets.

While 73% of Indonesia’s 270 million people are online, most access the internet via mobile data, according to a 2020 survey by the Indonesian Internet Providers Association, with less than 10% having a broadband connection.

Parts of the country remain without internet access.

Facebook announced last year that it would deploy 3,000 km of fiber in twenty cities in Indonesia, in addition to an earlier contract to develop public WiFi hotspots.

Aside from the Southeast Asian cables, Facebook continued its broader underwater plans in Asia and around the world, including the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), Salvadori said.

“We are working with partners and regulators to address all people’s concerns and we look forward to seeing this cable become a valuable, productive Trans-Pacific cable in the near future,” he said.

The 12,800 km PLCN, funded by Facebook and Alphabet, has encountered opposition from the US government over plans to open a line in Hong Kong. It was originally intended to link the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines.

Facebook said earlier this month it would be halting efforts to connect the California-Hong Kong cable because “the US government continues to have concerns about direct communications links between the US and Hong Kong.” (The Indonesian telecommunications company corrects this story to Telkom in paragraph 6, not to Telkomsel.)

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