Google joins Humboldt Submarine Cable construction team

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Google has joined the Humboldt Cable project team,  a 14,810 km submarine cable that connects Chile, French Polynesia, and Australia, from Valparaíso and Sydney. Furthermore, it will have branches for the possible connection of other countries and territories. This includes Juan Fernandez (islands 670km off the coast of Chile), Easter Island, New Zealand, and Antarctica. The project was named after Alexander von Humboldt, a German polymath, explorer and geographer. The cable system will increase the reliability and resilience of digital connectivity across the Pacific. This will be done by interconnecting the cables that comprise the South Pacific Connect initiative. Moreover, adding geographically diverse cable investments that link French Polynesia and Chile.

Initially, H2 was the project partner but they dropped out and have been replaced by Google who will manage construction, fiber sharing and commercialization. They will collaborate with Desarrollo País of Chile and Office of Posts and Telecommunications of French Polynesia (OPT) on the project. Construction began in 2016 under the Michelle Bachelet government and was continued by her successor Sebastián Piñera. The Chilean government has had the goal of a direct fiber optic network link between South America and the Asia-Pacific region since 2016. It is contributing US$55 million towards the project.

The Humboldt Cable capacity

The fiber optic cable will have a capacity of 144 terabytes and a 25-year lifespan. According to Google’s press release, the Humboldt project will “join other infrastructure projects. This includes the Google data center in Quilicura in powering Google services . Additionally, the Google Cloud region in Santiago supporting customers across Latin America, the cross-Andes terrestrial connectivity between Chile and Argentina, and the Curie subsea cable linking Chile, Panama, and the West Coast of the United States.” Estimates on Google’s regional investments have been placed at US$1.2 billion between 2022 and 2027.

Project costs

The project is estimated to cost US$400 million and will be funded through The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan ICT Fund. In 2020, following an economic, technical, and legal feasibility study, the Chilean government chose a solution proposed by Japanese NEC to build the Humboldt subsea cable linking Chile to Australia and New Zealand. The study was funded by the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF) at a cost of US$3 million. Previously, H2 Cable LP, a subsidiary of BW Digital (the owner of Hawaiki Cable System) had been selected as the strategic partner for the development of the Humboldt Cable System in December 2021.

Amazon’s Bifrost Cable

In August last year, Amazon given approval for Bifrost Cable, a transpacific fiber cable by the Oregon State Land Board. The fiberoptic cable will be used by Amazon World Services. It will have its landfall in south Tillamook County, Oregon, and the other landfall in Singapore. It is also routed via Guam. The cable will be encased in a landing pipe for 4100 feet from the shoreline. It will then be buried at a depth of three to five feet along the continental shelf.  Project costs and timeline have not yet been announced.

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