Facebook said it plans to build two new undersea cables to connect Singapore, Indonesia and North America in a project with Google and regional telecom companies to boost the ability of the Internet between regions, according to Reuters.
“Echo and Bifrost, the first two cables to pass through a new diversified road crossing the Java Sea, will increase the total undersea capacity in the Pacific by about 70%.
The cables, according to the executive, will be the first to connect North America directly to some major parts of Indonesia, and will increase connectivity to the central and eastern provinces of the world’s fourth most populous country.
Reuters quoted Kevin Salvadori, Facebook’s vice president for investment network, as saying: “Echo” is being built in partnership with Google’s Alphabet and the Indonesian telecommunications company XL Axiata, and is scheduled to be completed by 2023.
Bifrost, which is being implemented in partnership with Telin, a subsidiary of Indonesias Telkomsel, and Singaporean conglomerate Keppel is set to be completed by 2024.
The two cables, which require regulatory approval, follow previous investments by Facebook to build connectivity in Indonesia, one of its five largest markets in the world.
While 73% of Indonesias 270 million people are online, the majority access the web through mobile data, with less than 10% using a broadband connection, according to a 2020 Indonesian Internet Providers Association survey.
Vast swaths of the country remain without any internet connection; Bifrost, which is being implemented in partnership with Telin, a subsidiary of Indonesias Telkomsel, and Singaporean conglomerate Keppel is set to be completed by 2024.
Facebook said last year it would spread 3,000 kilometers of fiber in Indonesia across twenty cities in addition to a previous deal to develop public Wi-Fi hotspots.
Salvadori said that aside from cables in Southeast Asia, Facebook has been pursuing its broader undersea plans in Asia and the world, including with the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN).
“We are working with partners and regulators to meet all the concerns that people have, and we look forward to this cable being a valuable and productive cable across the Pacific Ocean going forward in the near future,” he said.
The 12,800 km PLCN, funded by Facebook and Alphabet, has met with resistance from the US government over plans to build a canal in Hong Kong. The goal was originally to connect the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the Philippines.
Facebook said earlier this month that it would abandon its cable connection efforts between California and Hong Kong due to “persistent concerns from the US government about direct communication links between the United States and Hong Kong.”