US tech giant Google is planning to deploy a fiber-optic network that will run through Saudi Arabia and Israel to open a new global internet traffic corridor, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the plans.
The network will, for the first time, link two nations that have no official diplomatic connection but are showing signs of warming relations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Saudi Arabia on Sunday, where he met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Israeli and Saudi officials said Monday. The visit marked the first known high-level meeting between an Israeli and a Saudi leader, though the two are reported to have met privately in the past.
The Google project, which will connect India and Europe, is Google’s newest cross-world infrastructure feat. The search engine’s parent company Alphabet Inc. competes with Facebook to build more powerful networks to support growing global internet demand and make Google more competitive as a cloud-based service provider.
The underwater cable project, called Blue Raman route, will be more than 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) long and is expected to cost $400 million, according to calculations by Salience Consulting, a Dubai-based communications company, cited in the WSJ report.
Google is expected to seek partners in the project to finance the cable, including Oman’s communications company and Telecom Italy, according to the people familiar with the issue. They will both fund the construction and take part in the use of the fiber optic infrastructure.
The project will need the approval of several regulatory bodies, as the cable will cross several borders, the people said.