Google and Facebook have bypassed Malaysia for the Apricot subsea cable, instead connecting Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Guam, and Taiwan. This sets Malaysia back from its goal of having the highest number of submarine cables landing in Southeast Asia by 2025, according to its MyDIGITAL digital economy blueprint released earlier this year. Attracting international submarine cables was one of the six goals drafted by Malaysia to build enabling digital infrastructure. Malaysia was also previously passed on for Facebook’s Bifrost cable, which linked Singapore and Indonesia to the US West Coast, CNBC reported.
Google said in a blog post that the new Apricot subsea cable, which is expected to launch in 2024, complements the Echo subsea cable, announced earlier in March. The Echo cable connects the US with Southeast Asia, covering the US West Coast, Singapore, Indonesia, and Guam. According to Google, the Echo and Apricot cables ensure a significantly higher degree of resilience for Google Cloud and digital services, and provide businesses and startups in Asia with lower latency, more bandwidth, and increased resilience in their connectivity between Southeast Asia, North Asia and the US.
Citing statistics from a study done by Analysys Mason of Google’s APAC network infrastructure between 2010 and 2019, Google said that network investments like these have had a measurable impact on regional economic activity. The study found that network investments led to an extra US$430 billion in aggregate GDP and more than a million additional jobs for the APAC region. Meanwhile, Facebook said the Apricot cable is part of its ongoing effort to expand global network infrastructure and better serve its users.
The Malaysia Internet Exchange (MyIX) previously urged the government to reinstate cabotage exemption for foreign vessels to conduct undersea cable repairs earlier in March, reported New Straits Times. The strict cabotage policies currently imposed governing the concerning maintenance and repair of subsea cables places Malaysia at risk of losing out to neighbouring countries for foreign direct investment, NST reported.
According to NST, MYIX’s chairman Chiew Kok Hin said during the annual general meeting in March that it was “a shame” that Malaysia lost out as it has strengths in internet infrastructure due to its strategic geographical location, ease of access, English-speaking population and relatively lower cost of entry. Compared to Singapore and Indonesia, Chiew described it as “a significant loss” for Malaysia. Marketing Interactive