Facebook and Google have separately announced that they will be participating in the construction of a new subsea cable system called Apricot. Expected to be operational in 2024, the 12,000km cable system will connect Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and Guam.
Meant to improve the standards and reliability of Internet connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region, Apricot has an initial capacity of over 190tbps. Naturally, the new cable system will support the previously announced Echo and Bifrost cable systems which are also under the purview of Facebook and Google.
As you may immediately notice, Facebook and Google did not include Malaysia in their Apricot project just like Echo and Bifrost. Some may see this new project as yet another slap to one of MyDigital’s main targets which are for Malaysia to have the highest number of submarine cables landing in the region by 2025.
Immediately, some have blamed the removal of the cabotage exemption policy by the previous Transport Minister, Wee Ka Siong as the reason behind the exclusion of Malaysia from this project. It was rumoured that the Cabinet may have planned to discuss the cabotage issue around two weeks ago but then again, that Cabinet does not exist anymore with the resignation of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday.
All in all, the ball will be in the court of the next government which certainly already has quite a busy list given the damage left behind by the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic. Only time will tell what is going to happen next but nevertheless, it is quite clear that this issue should not be left lingering much longer.