Google investing $1 billion to boost connectivity to Japan via two subsea cables

FILE PHOTO: Google logo

By Granth Vanaik

(Reuters) - Google will invest $1 billion to improve digital connectivity between the U.S. and Japan through two new subsea cables, the Alphabet-owned firm said on Wednesday amid a visit by the Japanese prime minister to boost ties between the countries.

The two subsea cables, Proa and Taihei, will improve connectivity between the U.S., Japan and multiple Pacific island countries and territories, Google said in a blog post.

"Building on the U.S.-Australia joint funding commitment for subsea cables last October, the United States and Japan plan to collaborate with like-minded partners to build trusted and more resilient networks and intend to contribute funds to provide subsea cables in the Pacific region," a United States-Japan joint statement said on Wednesday.

The Pacific region has become a great area of interest for China and the U.S., who are jostling for influence in the zone with competing offers for infrastructure and military partnerships.

President Joe Biden has pushed for U.S. dominance in telecommunications services, seeing the industry as a key national security issue due to its control over information flows worldwide.

The U.S. pledged last year to jointly fund two undersea cables, to be built by Google, connecting the U.S. territory of Guam with hubs in Fiji and French Polynesia, and further branching out across remote Pacific Islands.

Google said the Proa subsea cable would connect the U.S., Japan, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam, while the Taihei subsea cable would connect the U.S., Japan and Hawaii.

Additionally, Google said it would fund the construction of an interlink cable connecting Hawaii, the CNMI and Guam.

The tech giant also said it would work in collaboration with Japanese-based companies - including KDDI, Arteria Networks, Philippines-based Citadel Pacific and the CNMI - to improve the digital connectivity in the region.

Subsea cables are the backbone of the internet, carrying 99% of the world's data traffic.

(Reporting by Granth Vanaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Alan Barona)