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No Huawei but plans firm up for Australia-PNG-China cable

Submarine cable
Schematic: Submarine internet cable

STAFF EDITOR | Taipei Times

SYDNEY - US submarine cable company SubCom will lay an internet link from Australia to Hong Kong through Papua New Guinea, deepening its involvement in a region where China’s Huawei Technologies has sought to expand.

The route will be the most direct internet link yet between Australia and China.

It includes a connection to Madang in PNG and possible branches to Port Moresby and Honiara in the Solomon Islands — connections that Huawei had agreed to make before Australia blocked its project last year on security grounds.

The SubCom cable will likely stifle any commercial case for future Huawei cables in the region, said Jonathan Pryke of the Sydney-based think tank, the Lowy Institute.

“From a development point of view, it’s great,” he said. “It would greatly increase the accessibility of internet in PNG.”

The cable is due for completion in 2022 and might include a trans-Pacific branch to Los Angeles.

Submarine cables can handle more information much faster and cheaper than satellites and carry the vast bulk of the globe’s telecommunications traffic. That makes them strategically sensitive pieces of infrastructure.

In the South Pacific, where they are sorely needed to improve expensive and slow satellite internet connections, cable construction has proven a flash point between China and Western powers seeking to contain its growing influence.

Huawei, which in 2016 won a tender to build a domestic cable network in PNG and also uses Madang as a hub, was shut out of building an international cable to Australia amid concern over the company’s links to Beijing.

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