Home Economy DoJ May Block Google-Backed Fiber-Optic Project Over ‘National Security’ Fears

DoJ May Block Google-Backed Fiber-Optic Project Over ‘National Security’ Fears


Offering a glimpse of complications that are arising from Washington’s campaign to stamp out ‘national security’-related issues emanating from the Chinese telecom sector, WSJ reported on Wednesday about a major project to lay high-speed fiber-optic cable across the Pacific that would increase the Internet connectivity between China and the US. The project, known as the Pacific Light Cable Network, involved laying 8,000 miles of undersea fiber-optic cable between Los Angeles and Hong Kong, creating a new link between the US and Hong Kong.

The project, which is already in its final stages, with most of the cable having already been laid, is being financed by Facebook, Google-parent Alphabet and a major Chinese telecoms company.

But now, a committee of US officials responsible for granting the project final approval are getting cold feet, and the project’s backers are worried it might not pass its final ‘national security’ review led by the DoJ, DHS and other US federal agencies. These agencies make a recommendation to the FCC, which makes the final decision whether to allow the project will receive a license to operate.

Years ago, when the project started, the feeling was that increasing connectivity between Hong Kong and the US wasn’t controversial. But now, with Beijing seeking to exert more control over the territory as pro-democracy protests rage, officials at the DoJ have changed how they feel about this distinction. Moreover, although the project is being managed by a Hong Kong company, one of its backers is Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group, mainland China’s fourth-largest broadband provider. The company faces scrutiny in the US because it participates in the Chinese government-mandated censorship and surveillance of the Chinese population.

Right now, the project is operating under a temporary license. But that license expires in September, and although Washington could extend that temporary permit, that outcome is seen as unlikely. If the FCC refuses to grant a permanent license because of national security concerns raised by the DoJ-led committee, it’s unclear what would happen.

Right now, the cable is one of roughly 380 submarine cables that transmit nearly all of the world’s intercontinental Internet traffic.

But the possibility that Washington could withhold a permanent operating license highlights the fact that American tech giants have been helping Asian firms lay thousands of miles of fiber optic cable to improve connectivity between Asia and North America, and haven’t exactly thought through how the changing political landscape might impact some of these projects.

Contacted by WSJ, the company managing the project, which affirmed that it has already installed nearly 7,000 miles of fiber optic cable, said it hasn’t heard about any opposition from Washington. Google, meanwhile, gave a comment that made it sound like the company knows the project is doomed.

Pacific Light Data Communication Co., the Hong Kong company managing the cable project, said it has already installed more than 6,800 miles of the cable system, which will be ready for service by December or January. Senior Vice President Winston Qiu said he hadn’t heard of any U.S. regulatory problems. “We didn’t hear any opposition,” he said.

A Google spokeswoman said the company has “been working through established channels for many years in order to obtain U.S. cable landing licenses for various undersea cables. We are currently engaged in active and productive conversations with U.S. government agencies about satisfying their requirements specifically for the PLCN cable.” A Facebook spokeswoman declined to comment.

So, what might happen if the FCC doesn’t grant the license? Would all that cable go to waste? Probably not. Presumably, just like Chinese owner of Grindr was forced to do after CFIUS raised issues about the sale of the LGBTQ-focused hookup app, the Chinese owners would presumably be forced to divest their stake.

But that would leave the project vulnerable to the whims of the market. And if the Chinese telecoms giant is forced to brook a significant loss, it could have a chilling effect on future projects like this one.

via zerohedge


  1. When Nixon first open relations with China, Hong Kong was under British rule and doing very well on its own financially. Nixon saw the multimillion person Chinese market as a tremendous economic boom for the US and in the process, he hoped to bring a communist country to our side by showing it first hand how Capitalism can feed millions and grow a much better future for Beijing…The Beijing Chinese had a slightly different idea, except they didn’t divulge it to Nixon. China is the recipient of a very modern and capitalistic Hong Kong and they profit greatly from it but they are reaching its tentacles into an otherwise democratic society and the British bred Chinese of Hong Kong don’t like it, evidenced by the current riots. Beijing, on the other hand, has taken advantage of our naivete by stealing IP and using the preferred nation status that was first granted by Nixon. Its time to get tough with the Chinese and Trump is doing the right thing. We are the most powerful nation in the World as well as the World benefactor but China needs to be taught a lesson!

  2. If the FCC is so concerned about Internet safety, it should ban wireless, not fiber optics. Kevin Mottus asserts that the FCC is a captured, or corrupted, agency.Motorola is one of their advisers and AT&T, Verizon, and Mobile are representing their organizations. Instead of heeding their advice, we should demand that oversight be taken away from FCC and put into hands of EPA and NIH. Safety testing needs to be done, not just exposure testing. Engineers cannot judge correctly; it should be people with biological knowledge. It will be worse with 5G waves, which will be more concentrated in skin and eyes in 5G and not go as deeply in the body. If you heat or damage your skin, it will affect all your nerves. Small heating to the eyes you will have very serious effects. 5G is being pushed by the FCC, and Congress is being lobbied and bought. Fiber optic is much faster, safer, and better. We are choosing an inferior method. Industry is directing government, not the othe way around. Fiber optic money was taken and diverted to wifi. We all should write our representatives and senators and ask:

    1. What recent, independent scientific studies demonstrate the safety of 5G technologies?
    2. Has FCC or any other agency conducted research into potential long-term health outcomes of repeated exposure to radiofrequencies similar to those present in high-band 5G cells? What were the results?
    3. Have any 5G telecommunications service providers conducted studies into long-term health outcomes of repeated exposure to radiofrequencies similar to those present in high-band 5G cells? If so, what were the results of such studies?
    4. How are the FCC and 5G service providers working with local governments and municipalities to address citizens’ concerns concerning 5G implementation?
    5. What procedure exists for residents to file complaints with the FCC regarding the installation of small cell 5G sites in their neighborhoods?

    The FCC is getting away with harming and even killing people by not dealing with consequences of wireless. Proof?

    1. 1.9 billion dollars worth of lawsuits regarding dangers of wife Murray vs Motorola.
    2. Smart meters have opt outs in nearly have of the states. Hundreds, if not thousands, of people getting sick and making these formal opt outs.
    3. Recently embassy workers in Cuba developed sickness from these devices, all done below our stated safety guidelines.

    These communist countries are aiming at these people to monitor them. Russia has 5 times as much as the rest of the world combined because they are studying 5G frequencies to use as weapons.

    We do have many studies on biological effects, but they say none of human health effects, as they are twisting words to confuse the public.

    5G uses millimeter waves, which are densely packed. 5Ginformation.net. 5Gisharmfulatgmail.com to speak with Kevin Mottus. The army did a study on this and it should be made public. Navymedicalresearch1972 navy men reported symptoms, 122.

    Harming people is a criminal offense, and it should be presented that way. Organize and vote against government officials who will not work on this. The science is there. the Italian Supreme Court has already made a connection between towers and brain cancer. This is air pollution. Insurance agencies have done risk assessment and know there is a relationship and classified it as a high-risk agent. Mdsafetech.org. Local issues: Whatis5G.info; Mystreetmychoice.org for lots of info.

    The EPA was doing good research on microwave radiation and were defunded. Now we have outdated limits. Many countries can go to the Internet to find out what their exposures are, but not in the US. France, Cypress, Israel. On Ehtrust you can see what there is in other countries. With 5G, we are adding another level, not exchanging one for another.

    Moca2 technology is good technology. You can use existing wires through house to set up. It doesn’t interfere with TV reception and, unlike wireless, has no negative side effects.

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