January 22, 2013
Cuban Fiber-Optic Cable Finally Switched On
By Jody Ray Bennett
TMCnet Contributing Writer
The first fiber-optic wire from Cuba to the mainland, which was put down almost two years ago, has recently been turned on for the first time.
Reports claim that on Jan 14th, Cuba activated the cable, called ALBA-1.
Prior to the activation of the cable, citizens of Cuba were forced to use satellite Internet links, which are significantly slower and less reliable than fiber-optic cable. The report said that faster traffic to the country has been consistent and that the Spanish telecom Telefonica (News - Alert) will be working with the Cuban state company ETECSA for routing service.
While there has been improvement in latency from the mainland to Cuba, it does not appear that the fiber-optic cable is handling all the bandwidth it could be, meaning that there must still be a lot of data coming through satellite connections. The report also states that, “We believe it is likely that Telefonica's service to ETECSA is, either by design or misconfiguration, using its new cable asymmetrically (i.e., for traffic in only one direction).”
Cuban government officials have stated in the past that the cable would be used for public interest and social good. In the meantime, most Cubans are stuck on shaky, ancient dial-up connections. Cuba is the last county in the western world to receive a fiber-optic connection. Akamai (News - Alert) Technologies Inc. rates Cuba as having the second lowest Internet connectivity rates in the world.
Only 2.9 percent of Cubans report having full Internet access, however, experts suggests that the numbers are closer to fivw or 10 percent as a result of under reporting and black markets. The report believes that despite the activation of ALBA-1, there will still be a shortage of Internet access across Cuba.
ALBA-1 connects Cuba to Venezuela for $70 million and was apparently ready for use last May according to Venezuela’s minister of science and technology.
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Edited by Brooke Neuman
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