Cuba: New Submarine Cable Won't Mean Wider Web Access
HAVANA – An underwater fiber-optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela that
is slated to begin operating in mid-2011 will not result in greater
access to Internet service on the island, official Communist Party daily
Granma said Wednesday.
The submarine cable, which is to multiply transmission speeds for data,
voice and images by 3,000 times, "will provide better quality of
info-communications, but it won't necessarily result in expanded
(service)," daily said.
Granma stressed "the political and strategic elements that converge" in
the cable project, noting the economic and trade embargo that the United
States has imposed on island since 1962 and "the need to break the
historical dependence of (Cuba and Venezuela) in the telecommunications
The task of installing a $70 million cable linking Cuba, Venezuela and
Jamaica will begin in January.
The main cable will link the northern Venezuelan city of La Guaira with
the southeastern Cuban city of Santiago de Cuba – a distance of 1,552
kilometers (965 miles) – and have a 640-gigabyte-per-second capacity,
while the other segment will connect Cuba and Jamaica.
Cuban authorities accuse Washington of preventing the island from
accessing the Internet via undersea cables, one of which connects
Cancun, Mexico and Miami and passes just 32 kilometers (20 miles)
northwest of Havana.
Cuba has had a satellite-based Internet link since 1996 that offers a
65-megabyte-per-second upload bandwidth and a 124 Mb/s download
bandwidth; according to the Cuban government, any modification of the
channel must be licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Havana blames the United States' decades-old economic embargo on Cuba
for high costs, slow speeds and the fact that Internet service on the
island is almost entirely restricted to companies and some professionals
in selected fields.