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submarine cable visual Christoph Burgstedt / Alamy

What China's Major Submarine Cable Means for U.S. Network Architects

Will there be competing Chinese and U.S. internets? With China’s new submarine internet cable, we break down how network managers might manage those circumstances.

Plans for competing internets are emerging under the sea between the United States and China, according to a recent Reuters report.

Reuters says China’s state-owned telecom firms are building a $500 million fiber-optic internet cable network on the sea floor. China Telecommunications Corporation (China Telecom), China Mobile Limited, and China United Network Communications Group (China Unicom) are planning the "world's most advanced and far-reaching subsea cable networks," say four people that Reuters cited.

The cable, called Europe-Middle East-Asia (EMA), would run from Hong Kong to China’s island province of Hainan before continuing to Singapore, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and France, Reuters said.

HMN Technologies, which is majority owned by Huawei Technologies, would manufacture and lay down the EMA Chinese cable, according to Reuters.

An American subsea cable company SubCom is installing a $600 million cable called South East Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 6 (SeaMeWe-6), which will allow data to flow from Asia to Europe through Africa and the Middle East. The fiber cable will extend more than 12,000 miles at the bottom of the sea. It will run from Singapore to France, with completion planned for 2025.

A SubCom spokesperson declined to comment for this story.

“As technology progresses and needs grow, there's always another cable to be built that will replace some of the ones that are being decommissioned like SeaMeWe-3,” says Doug Madory, director of internet analysis for network observability company Kentik.

More than 95% of intercontinental global data traffic runs over undersea cables across the ocean floor. Madory breaks down what network managers need to think about regarding China’s submarine internet cable.

Will the China Submarine Cable Affect U.S. Network Architects?

For starters, network architects may be limited in how to react to the new China cable because they can’t use configuration settings to avoid them, Madory says.

“I think it's pretty hard to do anything because...


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