Google invests $1bn in US–Japan subsea cables 


The investment will see the deployment of two new cable systems, including the first international subsea cable to connect the Northern Mariana Islands 

Google has announced a $1 billion investment to improving digital connectivity between the US and Japan through the deployment of two subsea cables, Proa and Taihei, both to be built by Japanese  NEC. 

The investment was announced on the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the US this week, organised to boost ties between the two countries. 

The first cable, Proa, will connect Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Guam.  

Proa, along with the extended Taiwan-Philippines-U.S. (TPU) system, will form the CNMI’s inaugural international subsea cables, creating an unprecedented route from continental America to Shima, Japan, to bolster reliability within the region. 

The second cable, called Taihei, will run from Japan to Hawaii. The Taihei system, accompanied by the extended Tabua line, are central to a broader project unveiled last year to build a cable from mainland US to Fiji and Australia. Upon its completion, this will establish an alternative data route from the US to Takahagi, Japan. 

KDDI, ARTERIA, Citadel Pacific, and CNMI are partners with Google on both cable projects.  

Furthermore, Google’s will also fund an interlink cable that will deliver enhanced connectivity between Hawaii, CNMI, and Guam. The cable will connect the transpacific routes, improve reliability and reducing latency, ensuring seamless digital experiences for users across the Pacific Islands and globally. 

The investment supports Google’s Japan Digitization Initiative, which aims at enhancing the capacity and resilience data routes between the US, Japan, and several Pacific island nations. 

“Building on the U.S.-Australia joint funding commitment for subsea cables last October, the United States and Japan plan to collaborate with like-minded partners to build trusted and more resilient networks and intend to contribute funds to provide subsea cables in the Pacific region,” read a joint statement from US and Japanese governments. As with any submarine cable traversing the Pacific, geopolitical factors were undoubtedly a major consideration in these cable projects. 

In recent years, China and the USA have been competing for influence over Pacific island nations. Tensions increased dramatically in 2022 when the Solomon Islands inked a security deal with Beijing, which sparked fears that a Chinese military base could be built on the islands, giving China even more influence over the region. 

The move solidified a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape of the Pacific in recent years, which has seen numerous other island nations, such as Fiji and Papua New Guinea, have benefit from Chinese infrastructure investment. 

In a show of commitment to Pacific island nations, of which three (Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and American Samoa) are US territories, President Joe Biden has pushed to bolster US influence in the regional telecommunications sphere, viewing the industry as key security issues.  

During the during the Pacific Island Summit in September last year, the US pledged to help the “Pacific Islands build resilient and secure infrastructure to promote their economic development 

President Biden pledged $15 million to “support Google’s South Pacific Connect subsea cable initiative.” 

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