A Department of Justice group set up last year to scrutinize submarine cables has recommended approving a Google and Meta/Facebook cable between the US and Asia.
The 12,800km Pacific Light Cable Network cable is mostly laid and ready to launch, but has been repeatedly delayed, laying dormant as it awaits FCC approval.
The cable was originally set to connect the US, Taiwan, the Philippines, and Hong Kong. But with growing US-China tensions, and Beijing's control over Hong Kong growing, US regulators said they would not approve the project.
Last year, the White House set up 'Team Telecom' to evaluate foreign participation in US telecoms networks. In June 2020, the team recommended that the FCC deny the project, which would have been the first direct US-Hong Kong able.
Another point of concern was that, when the cable was first announced in 2016, the largest backer of the cable was Chinese-based Pacific Light Data Communications Co.
PLDC's four fiber pairs were then shifted from Hong Kong steel and property magnate Wei Junkang to China's Dr. Peng Group, a telco company with alleged links to the state.
Now, Google and Meta have agreed that PLDC will have restricted access to the infrastructure and information, and leave the Hong Kong section of the cable unused. The companies will also conduct annual risk assessments for sensitive data using the system and look at adding branches to Indonesia, Singapore and Vietnam.
Following the changes, Team Telecom has now recommended the FCC approves the cable.