Keppel gets licence to start subsea cable business in Singapore

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - A wholly owned subsidiary of Keppel Telecommunications & Transportation (Keppel T&T) has been granted a facilities-based operator (FBO) licence by the Infocomm Media Development Authority.

In an exchange filing on Thursday (April 8), Keppel Corp said the licence gives Keppel Midgard Holdings the right to own, maintain and operate telecoms infrastructure in Singapore, and to provide telecommunications services in connection with the Bifrost Cable System.

The Bifrost Cable System - which Keppel T&T is undertaking with its partners, Facebook and Telin - is the world's first subsea cable system that directly connects Singapore to the west coast of North America via Indonesia through the Java Sea and Celebes Sea.

The project, announced last month, is expected to be completed in 2024 and will span over 15,000 km. Keppel said the system will boost the connectivity of the region's governments and businesses by offering "competitive pricing and capacity resilience".

FBOs are operators intending to deploy any form of telecommunication network, systems and facilities to offer telecommunication switching and/or telecommunication services to third parties.

"Securing the FBO licence is an important milestone for Keppel as it marks the start of our subsea cable business in Singapore," said Mr Thomas Pang, chief executive officer of Keppel T&T.

He added that the Bifrost project is in line with Keppel's Vision 2030 road map, which includes growing its connectivity platform, and will "strategically strengthen and broaden the group's play across the spectrum of data communications".

"It can give rise to potential opportunities for cross-selling or creating new profit pools across Keppel's different connectivity businesses, for example, by leveraging Keppel Data Centres' network of data centres as potential points of presence," he said.

Keppel T&T may also collaborate with funds managed by Keppel Capital to help provide funding.

Mr Pang added: "Drawing from our experience in Bifrost, we will also explore other opportunities in subsea cables."

Keppel Corp shares were trading at $5.47, up one cent or 0.18 per cent, at 10.20am on Friday, after the announcement.