Alphabet’s Google will run undersea cables powering internet access to at least eight far-flung Pacific Ocean nations under a joint U.S.-Australian deal set to be announced on Wednesday, according to a U.S. official.
The deal will expand an existing commercial project by Google in the region to the nations of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
Set to be announced during an official White House visit by Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the previously unreported deal involves contributions from both governments.
Canberra will contribute US$50 million and Washington is adding another US$15 million, according to a senior administration official.
The tiny and sometimes isolated nations of the Pacific have become an area of intense focus in recent years, with both China and the United States courting them with infrastructure development and military partnerships.
President Joe Biden has also pushed for U.S. dominance in telecommunications services, seeing the industry as a key national security issue given the control it affords over information flows worldwide.
Google is currently working on a fiber-optic cable that links Taiwan, the self-ruled island claimed by China, with the Philippines and the United States. As part of the Pacific islands project, the United States will work with the countries on cybersecurity resilience, helping them back up key information to global cloud networks, according to the official.