Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation’s (Keppel T&T) announced its wholly-owned subsidiary Keppel Midgard Holdings Pte. Ltd. (KMH) has been granted a Facilities-Based Operator (FBO) licence by the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA). The FBO licence will allow KMH to own, maintain and operate telecoms infrastructure in Singapore and to provide telecommunications services in connection with the Bifrost Cable System.
KMH has entered into a joint build agreement with a subsidiary of Facebook Inc. (“Facebook”), and PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia International (“Telin”), a subsidiary of PT Telkom Indonesia (Persero) Tbk, to jointly own and develop the Bifrost Cable System directly connecting Singapore to the west coast of North America via Indonesia, through the Java Sea and Celebes Sea.
Alcatel Submarine Networks (“ASN”) has been awarded the supply contract for the supply and installation of the Bifrost Cable System.
KMH’s share of the total project costs in the Bifrost Cable System as a joint build partner will be approximately US$350 million (approximately S$467 million).
Expected to be completed in 2024 and spanning over 15,000 km, the Bifrost Cable System is the world’s first subsea cable system that directly connects Singapore to the west coast of North America via Indonesia through the Java Sea and Celebes Sea. It will connect Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Guam and the west coast of North America.
The Bifrost Cable System project will be a transnational critical infrastructure to enhance Singapore’s role as a digital hub in APAC region.
According to IMDA, the regulator of infocomm and media sectors in Singapore, FBO license is required for any operator intending to deploy any form of telecommunication network, systems and facilities to offer telecommunication switching and/or telecommunication services to other licensed telecommunication operators, business, and/or consumers. While operators intending to lease telecommunication network elements (such as transmission capacity and switching services) from any FBO licensee so as to provide their own telecommunication services, or to resell the telecommunication services of FBOs, to third parties, may apply for a Services-Based Operations (SBO) Licence. Operators who have deployed telecommunication network, systems and facilities within their own property boundaries, but wish to offer telecommunication services to third parties resident within their property boundaries, should also apply for an SBO licence.
To land a subsea cable in Singapore, there are five key steps:
- Application to IMDA for an FBO license or to amend an existing FBO to deploy the submarine cable system into Singapore;
- Consultant with the Maritime Port Authority (MPA) for the proposed submarine cable route;
- Application to the Urban Redevelopment Authority(URA) for Land Use Planning and Development Control approvals;
- Application to MPA (Committee for Marine Project) for submarine cable corridor and installation approval; and
- Application to Singapore Land Authority (SLA) for Wayleave and Temporary Occupational Licenses.
The Bifrost project is the first international subsea cable project in which Keppel acts as a landing party.
Securing the FBO licence is an important milestone for Keppel as it marks the start of its subsea cable business in Singapore.