SACS, the first South Atlantic Cable System

According to inquirer.net, the leading Philippine news and information website, the Philippine government has partnered with Facebook to put up a high-speed internet infrastructure in a few years time, promising a capacity that would be “almost equal” to that of the giants of the telecommunications industry. Officials of the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and the state-owned firm Bases Conversion and Development and Development Authority (BCDA) have signed a landing party agreement with Facebook for the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure project. And Facebook is expected to land its Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) in the Philippines and will provide the Philippines with a spectrum equivalent to at least 2 Tbps.

The Luzon Bypass Infrastructure project aims to build an “ultra high speed information highway”, so as to improve the speed, affordability, and accessibility of broadband internet in the Philippines.

Under the agreement, BCDA would bid out the construction of the infrastructure, which would consist of two cable landing stations placed on the east and west coasts of Luzon, at the cost of P975 million (approximately US$18 million).

The DICT would operate the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure for 25 years, it would also maintain the facilities and provide “last mile connectivity” in the country.

The Luzon Bypass Infrastructure takes advantage of the Philippine geography, providing a bypass route for international submarine cable owners seeking diversity from the Luzon Strait, which has a history of multiple simultaneous submarine cable breakdowns.

The Luzon Bypass Infrastructure project is expected to go online in 2019.

Facebook would be the first to make use of the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure. Facebook would construct and operate the submarine cable system that will land in the said cable stations, providing the company with direct connections from Luzon to internet hubs in the United States and Asia.

In exchange for utilizing the Luzon Bypass Infrastructure, Facebook will provide the Philippines with a spectrum equivalent to at least 2Tbps, which is almost equal to the current combined capacity of Globe and Smart PLDT, the two telco giants who currently dominate the telecom industry in the Philippines.  And consumer complaints about turtle-paced internet speed in the Philippines.

Facebook has participated or is participating in building of following submarine cable systems:  

Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN) is a 12900-km submarine cable connecting Hong Kong and Los Angeles,consists of 6 fiber pairs. PLCN is designed with Open Cable structure and the state-of-the-air C+L band technology, with capacity of 24 Tbps per fiber pair. Facebook, Google and Pacific Light Data Communication (PLDC) are the co-builders of the PLCN cable system. Facebook owns one dedicated fiber pair in the PLCN cable system.

It is said Facebook plans to have branches in PLCN cable system and extends its capacity to the Philippines. 

According to BusinessMirror of the Philippine, Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque Jr said recently the landing party agreement with Facebook was supposed to be signed in December 2016, but it was neglected by former Information and Communications Technology Secretary Rodolfo A. Salalima.

“This agreement with the subsidiary of Facebook should have been signed as early as December 2016. It was not signed by the former secretary of the DICT [Department of Information and Communications Technology], and this was one of the areas pinpointed by Cabinet investigators as an area of conflict of interest for the former secretary of the DICT,” Roque added.

Upon signing the agreement with the Philippine government, Facebook secures cable landing facilities in the Philippines, achieves a milestone for the landing of PLCN cable system in the Philippines.