Google's Game for Another Subsea Project
Google is involved in another submarine cable project -- at least its third in the last six years -- as it continues to make fiber networks a bigger part of its business.
The web giant is one of the partners in the FASTER subsea consortium, which just tapped NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701) to build out a $300 million Trans-Pacific cable. The other partners in FASTER -- China Mobile Ltd. (NYSE: CHL), China Telecom Global, KDDI Corp. , Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) (OTC: SGTJY) and Global Transit -- are telecom heavyweights in their own right, but the standout here is Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), as the company continues its assault, by land and by sea, on the fiber network sector. (See FASTER Subsea Partners Tap NEC for New Cable.)
Google also invested in the Trans-Pacific Unity Cable and the Southeast Asia-Japan Cable (SJC) in recent years, and often has been mentioned as a potential candidate to acquire submarine cable operations, though the latter has yet to happen. Google's involvement in the FASTER project had been rumored in recent months and was first reported by The Wall Street Journal. (See TE SubCom Upgrades SJC Cable and Google's Building Unity Underseas.)
In addition to its increasing subsea interests, Google of course also ignited the gigabit broadband craze with its Google Fiber Inc. initiative, and has invested in dark fiber. Through the combination of these efforts, Google reportedly retains ownership in more than 100,000 fiber route miles around the world. Fellow web titan Facebook also has invested in at least one submarine cable and, like Google, has been viewed as a potential acquirer or investor in others (See Eurobites: Google Fiber Eyes UK, Facebook Invests in Subsea Cable and Could Tata Be Facebook's Next M&A Target?.)
Meanwhile, NEC's naming as the FASTER project contractor should not come as much of a surprise, considering that NEC also was involved in building out the Unity and SJC projects, and in addition to Google, those projects have several investors in common with the FASTER cable project. (See NEC Wins SJC Undersea Cable Deal and Unity Cable Ready for Service.)
ó Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading