China Mobile, China Telecom withdraw from SEA-ME-WE 6 project

China Mobile, China Telecom withdraw from SEA-ME-WE 6 project

SEA-ME-WE 6 map 16.9.png

Amid rising tensions between China and the US, China Telecom and China Mobile have withdrawn their investment in the SEA-ME-WE 6 subsea cable.

The consortium involved in the project includes the likes of Bharti Airtel, Orange, Singtel and Telecom Egypt.

According to the FT, their investment represented around 20% of the whole project which, in whole, is estimated to cost around US$500 million.

Sources indicate that the withdrawal came after US company SubCom confirmed it had a contract in force for the cable last year.

China Unicom, a smaller state-owned company, remains involved with the project.

In October of last year, the US introduced tough export controls that prevented China from obtaining semiconductors, preventing the country from making the equipment domestically.

Relations between the two have worsened after the US shot down what China called a “civilian airship used for research, mainly meteorological purposes” that had blown off course.

The withdrawal of China Telecom and China Mobile represents a continuing battle between the US and China over infrastructure – a battle which is likely to continue.

Despite the withdrawal of two key players, though, the construction on the SEA-ME-WE 6 cable continues.

The cable is a total of 19,200km submarine cable and will link Singapore and France, crossing through Egypt.

The cable is expected to be ready for service in Q1, 2025.

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