China Mobile, Walmart to operate new undersea data cable

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WASHINGTON, Aug 13 - China Mobile AG and Walmart Inc have asked the U.S. government to operate a new undersea data cable between the Philippines and California after Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc. agreed to retire the plan, a government agency said Friday

The two companies told Federal Communications Commission that they intend to start commercial operation by late 2022 and said the new data connection will provide significant new capacity on routes where capacity demand continues to increase substantially each year.

The two companies said the new cable will help to support Facebook applications and provide Amazon with the capacity to support Amazon's cloud services and connect its data centers.

The United States has repeatedly expressed concerns about China's role in handling network traffic and potential for espionage. Around 300 subsea cables form the backbone of the internet, carrying 99% of the world's data traffic.

In September 2020, Facebook, Amazon and China Mobile withdrew their application to connect San Francisco and Hong Kong as part of the Bay to Bay Express Cable System.

In April 2020, the FCC advanced Google's request to use part of a U.S.-Hong Kong undersea telecommunications cable that excluded Alphabet Inc. after U.S. agencies raised national security concerns and approved Google.

Google agreed to operate a portion of this 8,000-mile Atlantic Light Cable Network System between the United States and Hong Kong, but not to Taiwan. Google and Facebook donated to pay for construction of the completed link but U.S. regulators have blocked its use.

The companies in August 2020 abandoned the proposal to use the Hong Kong portion.

In May 2019, the FCC unanimously voted to deny China Mobile the right to provide services in the United States, citing risks that the Chinese government could use the authorization to conduct spying against the Chinese government.