Google and Facebook launch Apricot subsea cable

Google and Facebook launch Apricot subsea cable

16 August 2021 | Natalie Bannerman

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Google and Facebook have announced that they are to build Apricot, a new subsea cable connecting Singapore, Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Taiwan and Indonesia.

The 12,000km Apricot cable, will boast an initial design capacity of 190Tbps and will feature a state-of-the-art submersible reconfigurable optical add-drop multiplexer employing wavelength selective switch for a grid-less and flexible bandwidth configuration, based on space division multiplexing design.

The news follows on from the announcement made in March of this year in which Google and Facebook along with Indonesian telco XL Axiata are to build the Echo subsea cable system connecting Eureka, California to Singapore, with a stop-over in Guam, with plans to also land in Indonesia. 

At the same time, Google is also building the 15,000km BiFrost cable system with Telin, a subsidiary of Indonesia's Telkom and Singaporean conglomerate Keppel, linking Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam to the west coast of the US.

With a completion date of 2023, Echo is touted to be the "first-ever cable to directly connect the US to Singapore with direct fibre pairs over an express route”.

In a blog post written by Bikash Koley, VP and head of Google Global Networking and Head of Technology and Strategy at Google Cloud for Telecommunications, Google says that the Echo and Apricot cables "are complementary submarine systems" that will offer benefits due to the multiple paths in and out of Asia.

"Together they’ll provide businesses and startups in Asia with lower latency, more bandwidth, and increased resilience in their connectivity between Southeast Asia, North Asia and the United States."

In addition, Philippine telco PLDT confirmed that it is investing P3.9 billion (approx. $80 million) in the Apricot system, marking the company's third international subsea cable system by the PLDT Group in the last two years.

“The construction of this Apricot cable system is vital to the Philippine economy with rapidly increasing data traffic and is aligned with our efforts to make the Philippines a strategic data centre hub in the region,” said Alfredo Panlilio, president and CEO of PLDT. 

“Apricot is key to enhancing network resilience because new cable landing stations in Luzon and Mindanao will be built as part of this submarine cable system,” added Gene Sanchez, vice president and international facilities investments management head at PLDT.

“With the cable to be routed via the eastern coast of the Philippines, it will also increase the submarine cable route diversity in the Asia-Pacific region."

Subject to regulatory approvals Apricot will help to growing demands for 4G, 5G, and broadband access in the region as well as much-needed internet capacity, redundancy, and reliability in the Asia-Pacific region. The system is become ready for service in 2024.