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Pacific Light Submarine Cable to Connect Hong Kong to USA PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 07:22


Facebook wanted to make it possible for people to have deep connections and shared experiences with the people who matter to them most — anywhere in the world, and at any time. They have always evaluated new technologies and systems to help them do that, and one of the things they have been building out in recent years is their global network infrastructure. Increased capacity, flexible traffic routes, and adaptable system equipment are all things they look for when they consider new projects, which is why they partnered with Google and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) to build a new subsea cable spanning the Pacific called Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN).

PLCN will be one of the highest-capacity trans-Pacific systems, with an initial estimated design capacity of 120 Tbps. PLCN will also be one of the longest direct cable systems in the world, connecting Los Angeles and Hong Kong. Most Pacific subsea cables go from the United States to Japan, and this new direct route will give us more diversity and resiliency in the Pacific. As the number of people using Facebook apps and services continues to grow in the region, PLCN will help further connect Asia and our data centers in the U.S.

PLCN will be a flexible cable system. Prior to PLCN anyone deploying a new subsea cable would do so on a turnkey basis, with the system vendor providing the initial optical equipment based on whatever technology was available at the time the cable was contracted. Comparatively, the commercial and technical approach on this cable allows for independence between the wet plant and the optical technology. Each party can select its optical equipment independently, allowing them to choose from a variety of network equipment that will be interoperable with the system. This means equipment refreshes can occur as optical technology improves, including taking advantage of advances made during the construction of the system. When equipment can be replaced by better technology at a quicker pace, costs should go down and bandwidth rates should increase more quickly.

TE SubCom  has demonstrated a new transmission record of 70.4 Tb/s capacity over 7,600 km. The record transmission is made possible utilizing SubCom’s newly available C+L technology, which includes amplifiers with nearly 10THz of usable optical bandwidth, a transmission line designed to minimize noise accumulation and maximize performance, a new transmission format using multi-dimensional coded modulation with hybrid probabilistic and geometrical constellation shaping, and digital signal processing featuring several stages of non-linear compensation. The results were announced at the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) Conference 2017, which took place March 19-23 in Los Angeles, California.

SubCom will deploy C+L in PLCN. SubCom’s C+L effectively doubles the available transmission bandwidth of the repeater by an unprecedented factor of two in supported capacity per fiber pair when compared to the same number of fiber pairs in traditional C-band technology. Since only half the number of fiber pairs are needed compared to a C-band repeater, C+L technology is much more cost competitive and opens the path to the record capacities that SubCom is achieving today.

“70.4 Tb/s is a staggering figure,” said Neal Bergano, chief technology officer, TE SubCom. “With accelerating data center growth, developments in virtual and augmented reality, 4k and 8k video and machine-to-machine technology, bandwidth demands will continue unabated. Cable operators will continue to seek the fastest, highest capacity and most cost-effective systems available to them, and this new record positions C+L technology as the industry standard. We couldn’t be prouder of our research and development team for this tremendous achievement.”

The Details

In a cable Application filed by GU Holdings Inc. (GU Holdings), Edge Cable Holdings USA, LLC (Edge USA), and Pacific Light Data Communication Co. Ltd. (PLDC) (collectively the "Applicants") for a license to operate a non-common carrier fiber-optic submarine telecommunications cable extending between the continental United States and Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines, the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN). Application filed by GU Holdings Inc. (GU Holdings), Edge Cable Holdings USA, LLC (Edge USA), and Pacific Light Data Communication Co. Ltd. (PLDC) (collectively the  "Applicants") for a license to operate a non-common carrier fiber-optic submarine telecommunications cable extending between the continental United States and Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines, the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN).

PLCN will be a high capacity digital fiber-optic system landing in five locations (one in each of California, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and two in the Philippines) with two main segments: submarine Segment S and terrestrial Segment T.  Segment S, the main trunk between the United States and Hong Kong, will have six fiber pairs.  Segment S1 will have the following branching units (BU) that comprise sub-segments of the main segment S: BU1 to Taiwan (segment S2); BU2 and BU3 to the Philippines (segments S3 to Aurora, Philippines and S4 to San Fernando La Union, Philippines); and BU4, a branch stub (segment S5) that is still under the Applicants' consideration.  The system will have capacity of 120 terabits per second and a total length of approximately 13,000 kilometers.

The Applicants state that PLCN will help connect U.S. businesses and Internet users with Asia, the world's leading Internet market.  Specifically, Applicants say that PLCN will (i) help connect U.S. Internet users and businesses to Asia, (ii) increase competition on the trans-Pacific route, and (iii) enhance service quality, redundancy, and resilience of communications system in the region.  Applicants say that PLCN will compete directly with existing and other planned systems on the U.S.-Hong Kong route, and predict that this competition will increase bandwidth supply and spur service innovation and lower prices for consumers of international communications services.

The PLCN landing stations will be located in El Segundo, California; Hong Kong; Toucheng Township, Taiwan; Aurora, Philippines; and San Fernando La Union, Philippines.  The El Segundo, Hong Kong, and Taiwan landing stations will be located in existing facilities.  Both landing station facilities in the Philippines will be newly constructed.

PLCN's main trunk between the United States and Hong Kong will have six fiber pairs to be owned and controlled by the three Applicants and their affiliates in percentages described below.  The two branches to the Philippines will be wholly-owned and controlled by Edge USA's affiliate Edge Network Services Limited (Edge).  The Applicants state that the branch to Taiwan will be wholly owned by Google Cable Bermuda Ltd. (GCB) or a wholly-owned affiliate of Google LLC.

The Applicants and their affiliates will own the landing stations and segments as follows:

(1) Pursuant to a Joint Build Agreement between the Applicants (or their affiliates), PLDC will be the Hong Kong landing party for the PLCN cable.  PLDC will have a 66.67% participation interest and 66.67% voting interest in all geographic portions of Segment S1 (U.S.-Hong Kong). PLDC will have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment S5 (BU4 and branch stub), if constructed.  PLDC will have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment T1 (terrestrial link between Hong Kong cable landing station and Hong Kong terminal station).  PLDC will have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment T2 (terrestrial link between the Hong Kong cable landing station and Hong Kong terminal station (diverse from Segment T1)).

(2) GU Holdings will be the landing party in El Segundo.  GU Holdings will have a 16.67% participation interest and 16.67% voting interest in the U.S. territorial waters portion of Segment S1.

(3) Chunghwa Telecom Co., Ltd., a telecommunications operator in Taiwan, will be the landing party in Taiwan pursuant to a contract with a GCB.  GCB will have a 16.67% participation interest and 16.67% voting interest in the international waters portion of Segment S1.  GCB or a local affiliate will have a 16.67% participation interest and 16.67% voting interest in the Hong Kong territorial waters portion of Segment S1. GCB or a local affiliate will have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment S2 (BU1 to Taiwan).

(4) Edge USA will have a 16.67% participation interest and 16.67% voting interest in the U.S. territorial waters portion of Segment S1.

(5) The Applicants state that Bases Development Conversion Authority (a Philippines government instrumentality) and the Department of Information and Communications Technology (an administrative entity of the Executive Branch of the Philippine Government) are the intended landing parties in the Philippines pursuant to a future contract with Edge.  Edge will have a 16.67% participation interest and 16.67% voting interest in the international waters portion of Segment S1.  Edge will also have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment S3 (BU2 to Aurora, Philippines).  Edge will have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment S4 (BU3 to San Fernando La Union, Philippines).  Edge will also have a 100% participation interest and 100% voting interest in Segment T3 (terrestrial link between Philippines cable landing stations).

(6) Edge Network Services Hong Kong Limited will have a 16.67% participation interest and 16.67% voting interest in the Hong Kong territorial waters portion of Segment S1.

The Applicants state that they intend to enter into contractual arrangements with third parties for support services in connection with the operation and management of the network operations center (NOC) to be located in the United States.  The Applicants state that the U.S. NOC will manage access to the U.S. common infrastructure pursuant to a contract with Applicants (or their affiliates).  The Applicants state that the NOC contract will give Applicants control over the NOC in all matters related to PLCN.  The Applicants will advise the Commission once a vendor is selected.

Applicants have entered into a United States Landing Party Agreement that will govern the relationship between the Applicants at the U.S. landing station.  The Applicants state that they intend to enter into contractual arrangements with Equinix, Inc. (Equinix) for support services in connection with the operation and management of U.S. facilities associated with PLCN, including the landing and terminal equipment associated with the U.S. landing.   Equinix is the sole owner of the land and building where the PLCN cable will land in El Segundo (the LA4 data center).

Applicants assert that GU Holdings alone will own and control the U.S. landing station located in El Segundo, California under Commission rules, and as such contend that Equinix is not required to be an applicant under 47 CFR § 1.1767(h)(1).  They state that the arrangements with Equinix regarding the relationship of the Applicants and Equinix demonstrate that Equinix will not have the ability to significantly affect operations of the PLCN cable system.  These arrangements include:

Submarine Cable Landing License

GU Holdings Inc.

  • Within the landing facility at Equinix, each Applicant will have a separate cage for their separate fiber pairs.
  • An additional cage will house common equipment to serve all of Applicants' fiber pairs.
  • GU Holdings will be able to access the cage that houses the common equipment and each of the Applicants' separate cages.
  • Edge USA and PLDC will have access to their respective cages only.
  • Equinix will not have access to the cages except at the direction of GU Holdings.
  • Edge USA and PLDC may direct Equinix to access their separate cages to provide specified ancillary services.

The Applicants propose to operate PLCN on a non-common carrier basis.  They state that although PLCN will add important additional capacity on the U.S.-Hong Kong route, several alternative facilities on existing and proposed cable systems (e.g., the Asia-America Gateway) provide competition.  Applicants state that more generally, the U.S.-Hong Kong route is served by systems landing in Japan, Korea, and China, such as FASTER, Japan-U.S. Cable Network, Pacific Crossing-1, TGN-Pacific, Trans-Pacific Express, and Unity, which provide onward connectivity to Hong Kong via numerous intra-Asia submarine cable systems (e.g., APCN-2 and APG).  Applicants state that the U.S.-Philippines and U.S.-Taiwan routes are served by competing systems that would preclude PLCN from becoming a bottleneck facility on those routes.  The Applicants state that the U.S.-Taiwan route is served directly by TPE and FASTER and will soon be served by the NCP cable.  The Applicants state that the U.S.-Philippines route is directly served by the AAG cable, which will soon be joined by SEA-US.  The Applicants state that like with the U.S.-Hong Kong route, the U.S.-Philippines and U.S.-Taiwan routes are served by a variety of systems that land in Japan, Korea, and China that provide onward connectivity to Taiwan and the Philippines.  Due to these alternate facilities, the Applicants believe that they should not be required to serve the public indiscriminately.  The Applicants further state that PLCN capacity will be used either by Applicants to meet their own bandwidth needs or made available to third parties based on individually tailored agreements.  The Applicants assert that PLCN will improve the redundancy and resiliency of the communications network in the Asia region.  The Applicants note that the PLCN will interconnect, directly and indirectly, with many of the existing and planned regional and international cables.

GU Holdings Inc. is 97% owned by Google International LLC and 3% owned by YouTube, LLC, which are each wholly owned by Google LLC (a technology search services and advertising company), which in turn is wholly owned by XXVI Holdings Inc., which in turn is wholly owned by Alphabet Inc., and all of which are organized in the state of Delaware.  According to the Applicants, the following persons (all U.S. citizens), as of Feb. 13, 2017, have a 10% or greater voting or equity interest in Alphabet Inc.: Larry Page (42.3% of Class B common stock); and Sergey Brin (41.0% of Class B common stock).  No other individual or entity has 10% or greater direct or indirect voting or equity interest in GU Holdings.  Together, the shares held by Mr. Page and Mr. Brin account for more than 50% of the voting interests in Google.

Edge Cable Holdings USA, LLC is a wholly owned, direct subsidiary of Facebook, Inc.  Both Edge USA and Facebook, Inc. are organized in the state of Delaware.  Facebook, Inc.'s principal business is software and technology.  According to the Applicants, the following persons (all U.S. citizens), as of December 31, 2016, have a 10% or greater direct or indirect interest in Edge USA:  CZI Holdings, LLC (CZI) owns 13.9% of Facebook, Inc.'s outstanding shares and 51.96% voting interest in Facebook, Inc.; and Mark Zuckerberg, Chairman and CEO of Facebook, who owns all of CZI's membership interests, and together with his other ownership positions in Facebook, Inc., owns approximately 14.35% of Facebook's outstanding shares and hold and an approximate 59.58% voting interest in Facebook that includes (a) a 51.96% voting interest for shares he holds directly or controls through CZI and (b) a 6.3% voting interest that he has authority to vote pursuant to voting agreements with (i) Dustin Moskovitz, Trustee of the Dustin Moskovitz 2008 Annuity Trust and (ii) Dustin Moskovitz, Trustee of the Dustin A. Moskovitz Trust. CZI is engaged in philanthropy and is organized in Delaware.  The Applicants state that Facebook shares trade publicly on NASDAQ and as of the most recent measurable date (Dec. 31, 2016), Facebook has no 10% or great direct or indirect shareholders other than CZI and Mr. Zuckerberg.

Pacific Light Data Communication Co., Ltd. is a communications service provider and a private company organized under the laws of Hong Kong.  PLDC is wholly owned by PLD Holdings Limited, a holding company organized in the British Virgin Islands, which is in turn wholly owned by Dr Peng Holding Hong Kong Limited and China Culture Silicon Valley Limited, a holding company organized in Hong Kong, which is in turn wholly owned by Mr. Wei, Junkang, a citizen of Hong Kong SAR of China. Mr. Wei, Junkang's principal business is business investment in information technology. On December 4, 2017, Dr. Peng Holding Hong Kong Limited acquired 93 percent of the  shares of PLD Holdings Limited, the parent company of PLDC. Dr. Peng Holding Hong Kong  Limited is a subsidiary of Dr. Peng Telecom & Media Group Co., Ltd., which is a  publicly-traded company based in Beijing, China.