Six years ago eyebrows were raised when Google announced the rollout of a transpacific undersea cable named “Unity”. Bharti Airtel, Global Transit, KDDI Corp., Pacnet and SingTel were members of Unity consortium. It was activated on April 1, 2010. Google wanted to bypass the cumbersome transcontinental supply chain of broadband, as Capacity Magazine highlights:
Google’s mould-breaking intervention was motivated by what, as a customer, it saw as the unnecessary complexity and inflexibility of the traditional consortium model. For Unity it set out a new style of consortium, whereby the different members – itself, SingTel, Pacnet, Global Transit, KDDI and Bharti Airtel – collaborated only at the level of the system’s construction, thereafter owning their own fibre pairs and disposing of the capacity as they wished, with no consultation needed and no need for artificially high pricing, caused by unused capacity being banked, rather than sold off.
Now the Internet behemoth is contemplating another transpacific cable, according to Wall Street Journal. One may wonder about Google’s obsession for plugging Asia with the U.S.A. The answer is, “Asia Pacific is home to half the world’s mobile subscribers.” And mobile is the key driver of broadband across this region. Meanwhile, TeleGeography has detected the emerging movers and shakers of tectonic shift in the world of Internet:
Internet backbones remain the primary users of international bandwidth, accounting for 75% of demand in 2013. However, the drivers of international bandwidth demand are changing. As private network operators, including large content providers like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, expand their internal networks, their bandwidth requirements increasingly exceed those of the largest carriers.
Private network bandwidth grew at a compounded rate of 55% annually between 2009 and 2013, while international internet bandwidth grew 44%. Private networks accounted for 25% of used international bandwidth in 2013, up from 20% in 2009. Given their massive capacity requirements, some of the largest content providers have moved towards owning infrastructure, as a means of lowering their costs.
It fairly answers Google’s appetite for the second transpacific submarine cable. It will, however, only bolster Google’s dominance in the developed part of Asia (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong.) Remaining vast majority across the developing Asia will stay out of Google’s direct reach. Lack of open access has been the biggest barrier to this gigantic market.
We have been closely working with ESCAP to deploy a pan-Asian terrestrial optical fiber network along the Asian Highway to remove all regulatory roadblocks. This proposed meshed network spans over 142,000 kilometers covering 32 countries from Japan to Turkey. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and other Internet giants should join hands with ESCAP to materialize the world’s longest international open access network.