Cuba turns on fiber-optic IT link to Venezuela (Update)

January 24, 2013
Divers from the Venezuelan state-run oil company PDVSA work on the installation of a fiber optic cable between their country and Cuba, in the coastal city of La Guaria, some 40 km from Caracas, on January 22, 2011. An undersea fiber-optic cable stretching from Cuba to Venezuela has been switched on, in the first hard-wired link from the communist-run island to international telecom networks.

An undersea fiber-optic cable stretching from Cuba to Venezuela has been switched on, in the first hard-wired link from the communist-run island to international telecom networks, the state telecom agency announced Thursday.

Havana has been unable to join other undersea fiber-optic cable networks due to a US embargo.

But state telecom company Etecsa said the new Internet link, which also extends to Jamaica, would not mean the island was lifting its restrictions on Internet access.

"Since last January 10, we began to perform quality testing of Internet traffic on the system. They are conducted using real traffic to and from Cuba," Etecsa said in a statement published in the state-run Granma newspaper.

The 1,600-kilometer (994-mile) cable, estimated to cost $70 million, was actually completed in February 2011 and was due to come into operation in July 2011. However, officials never explained why it remained unused.

In its statement, Etecsa said the cable has been "operational since August 2012," and was initially tested with international telephone traffic.

But it warned that the "conclusion of the testing process ... will not automatically mean an increase in access" for Cubans to the Internet.

"It will be necessary to make investments in the domestic telecommunications infrastructure and increase foreign exchange resources to pay for Internet traffic in order to achieve the gradual growth of a service we provide mostly for free today," Etecsa said.

A US embargo bans Cuban access to underwater Internet cables, one of which runs from Miami to Cancun, Mexico, a mere 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Havana.

Because of this, Cuba had connected to the Internet via slower satellites. The government has blamed the limited bandwidth for restrictions on Internet access, saying it forces them to "prioritize" it for "social use" purposes, with universities, companies and research centers favored.

Dissidents have said the government's true goal is to control access to information.

The lack of details explaining the cable's operational delay also sparked reactions.

"Remember, the cable has a lifespan of 25 years. The clock is ticking," the official blogger Arian Perez wrote on his blog earlier this month.

The project is considered one of the most ambitious examples of cooperation between the close allies in Caracas and Havana, where Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is convalescing following cancer surgery in December.

Explore further: Miami firm says it will lay first US-Cuba fiber

Related Stories

Miami firm says it will lay first US-Cuba fiber

October 13, 2009

(AP) -- A small Miami-based company says the U.S. government has given it permission to lay the first optical communications fiber from the U.S. to Cuba. That could drastically cut the cost of calling the island nation and ...

Cuba says US behind illegal wireless networks

November 14, 2011

Cuba accused the United States on Monday of enabling illegal Internet connections in its territory and said several people were arrested in April for profiting from the wireless networks.

Report: Cuba using undersea fiber-optic cable

January 21, 2013

Cuba apparently has finally switched on the first undersea fiber-optic cable linking it to the outside world nearly two years after its arrival, according to analysis by a company that monitors global Internet use.

Telefonica: 'No involvement' with Cuba cable (Update 2)

January 22, 2013

Spanish telecom Telefonica denied Tuesday that it has anything to do with an undersea fiber-optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela, even as an analyst who monitors global data traffic noted an additional uptick in data speed ...

Recommended for you

On soft ground? Tread lightly to stay fast

October 8, 2015

These findings, reported today, Friday 9th October, in the journal Bioinspiration & Biomechanics, offer a new insight into how animals respond to different terrain, and how robots can learn from them.

AI machine achieves IQ test score of young child

October 6, 2015

Some people might find it enough reason to worry; others, enough reason to be upbeat about what we can achieve in computer science; all await the next chapters in artificial intelligence to see what more a machine can do ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

2.6 / 5 (5) Jan 24, 2013
Congratulations to both of those countries. It's a step forward in the face of West's crimes against humanity. Well done Cuba and Venezuela!
3 / 5 (4) Jan 24, 2013
Inch by inch nations like Cuba are being pulled toward a socialist, mixed ecconomy.

It is the destiny of all thinking people.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.