Facebook and Google join PLCN trans-Pacific cable consortium

13 October 2016 | James Pearce


Facebook and Google will work with TE SubCom and PLDC to build the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) set to run between Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

The 12,800km PLCN transpacific submarine cable system is schedule for a commercial launch in the summer of 2018, and will provide the first direct undersea route between Hong Kong and LA with ultra-high capacity transmission.

It will include TE SubCom’s (a subsidiary of TE Connectivity) C+L technology, which it claims doubles the available bandwidth and capacity per fibre pair over a traditional C-band-only designed system.

PLCN is set to be the highest capacity transatlantic route offering up to 120Tbps, with no landing stations along the route. It will have five fibre pairs, and span from Manhattan Beach, California, to Tseung Kwan O in Hong Kong.

Facebook and Google have now joined the consortium for the cable, which was first announced last year as a $400 million project between TE SubCom and PLDC.

"PLCN will be among the lowest-latency fibre optic routes between Hong Kong and the U.S. and the first to connect directly using ultra-high-capacity transmission," said Wei Junkang, the chairman of PLDC. 

"It is certainly gratifying that global technology companies like Google and Facebook have become co-investors in PLCN. It is a strong signal that PLCN will be trusted to address the capacity needs for internet and international communications services throughout the Pacific Rim. We envision this deployment as the initial step in PLDC's construction of a global network."

It is the latest example of major software and OTT giants getting involved in the subsea business, after Google lit up its FASTER trans-Pacific subsea cable earlier this year. FASTER became operational in June and currently holds the record for transmission across the Pacific at 60Tbps.

Facebook has also got involved in other cable projects, including the Marea cable it is building along with Microsoft, which will offer speeds up to 160Tbps across the Atlantic.