Cloud supremacy, undersea cables and the chip shortage are emerging as key pieces in the puzzle that is the trade war between the US and China.
Telecoms.com recently pondered that China Mobile pulling out of a Philippines to US cable project was evidence that political posturing was behind the move. It is a signal that we will end up with two sets of infrastructure – one based around China, the other in the US.
It is indeed a pretty clear indication that we are heading to a world of two halves, much to the dismay of, well, everyone except politicians.
Cloud supremacy is another indicator and, as Eric Schmidt told Nikkei Asia, “Alibaba Cloud and so forth are good enough that you could build on the Chinese side, but you are not going to use them in the West. Similarly, American clouds are very, very good, but you can’t use them in China.”
And it is not only cables and cloud supremacy that points to a fractured world, but the chip shortage does too – perhaps more so. Unlike the cloud supremacy battle (being played out by the biggest of big tech), the chip shortage makes the technology struggle look like a game in some Metaverse, where avatars of the US and China fight over a tiny island called Taiwan.
Such is the panic caused by the chip shortage that governments have raced to throw money at the problem and are bribing (sorry, providing incentives for) companies to either prioritise their countries or provide incentives for companies to build chip factories in their territories.
The scale of the issue should not be underestimated. Big tech is out there investing, big time.
Facebook is being vocal about taking the lead in infrastructure projects, with a huge new data centre being built just outside Singapore and cable laying projects in Indonesia and Africa. This comes alongside news that the hyperscalers are adding bandwidth faster than any regional operator across the Middle East.
These three issues – cloud supremacy, underseas cable projects and the chip shortage will dictate how deep the divide becomes between the US and China as they struggle to control companies that account for vast swathes of their economies. Another issue is that it is looking as if SE Asia and Taiwan will be where the struggles are fiercest.
In these increasingly uncertain times, let us hope that the game remains in the Metaverse and does not end up getting too real.