US government approves activation of direct USA to Taiwan Internet cable

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) yesterday approved Google’s application to activate the California to Taiwan portion of an undersea Internet cable network that has laid dormant due to security concerns since 2018.

The 120 terabit-per-second fibre-optic Pacific Light Cable Network began development in 2016 with funding from tech giants Google and Facebook who touted the project as the first direct undersea cable to connect Hong Kong and the USA.

However, a joint Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Justice telecommunications security unit – Team Telecom- flagged the network as a potential security threat due to the fact that four of the six cables were owned by a Hong Kong based company Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC), who in late 2017, sold a majority stake to Beijing-based company, Dr Peng Communication and Media Group.

Dr Peng Communication and Media Group has known links to the Chinese Communist Party government and its police surveillance operations.

In late January this year, Google and Facebook applied for permission to bypass the compromised portions of the network, and activate Facebook’s link to the Philippines, and Google’s link to Taiwan.

Under the proposal, the two links would operate independently of the PLDC-controlled portions of the network. Activating the links  “would not authorize any commercial traffic on the PLCN system to or from Hong Kong, nor any operation of the PLCN system by Pacific Light Data Communication.”

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On April 7, the Department of Justice, with concurrence of the Departments of Homeland Security and Defense, submitted a petition to the FCC stating that the agencies have no objection to approving temporary operating authority to Google subsidiary GU Holdings to operate the portion of the PLCN between the United States and Taiwan.

Yesterday, the FCC approved the proposal, allowing Google to operate the link for the next six months pending the finalization of the license application, Reuters reported.

Google thanked the FCC for approving its request.

Google told regulators earlier this year it has “an immediate need to meet internal demand for capacity between the U.S. 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.”

Google built its first data center in Taiwan in 2013, investing US$780 million to build a facility in Changhua County that employs 200 staff. In November last year, the tech giant committed another US$850.5 million to build a second data facility in Taiwan.

Facebook’s application to operate the US to Philippines portion of the network is still pending.

Pacific Light Cable Network Diagram
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One thought on “US government approves activation of direct USA to Taiwan Internet cable

  • April 19, 2020 at 6:39 pm

    Interesting… any connections to Independent Taiwan does seem like a good path forward… but reading that somehow HK viza vi China is involved doesnt… And always in the thick of things stands Google… a double strike.. I REALLY hope they are fully aware of what they are doing here… I fully support Independent Taiwan tho


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