Venezuela Helps Cuba Overcome US-Imposed Internet Restrictions

Cuba and Venezuela will jointly install a fibre-optic submarine cable between the two nations, a move which will “revolutionise telecommunications” according to Cuban Information and Communications Minster Ramiro Valdez yesterday.

By Tamara Pearson - Venezuelanalysis.com

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The fibre optic route (Granma)
The fibre optic route (Granma)
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Merida, November 4th, 2010 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Cuba and Venezuela will jointly install a fibre-optic submarine cable between the two nations, a move which will “revolutionise telecommunications” according to Cuban Information and Communications Minster Ramiro Valdez yesterday.

The governments want to begin installation of the cable this January and hope to finish it by the second half of 2011. It will connect Cuba with both Venezuela and then with Jamaica, and involves an investment of US$ 70 million.

The cable represents the first possibility for Cuba to have relatively fast internet. Valdez highlighted the importance of “breaking the historical dependence by [Venezuela and Cuba] in telecommunications”.

Currently all Cuban internet is via satellite, meaning it is slow, limited, and expensive. There is an optical-fibre connection between Cancun, Mexico and Miami, US, that passes 32 kilometres from Havana but the U.S denies Cuba access to it.

Venezuelan engineer Carlos Orfila explained, “If the blockade [by the US against Cuba] didn’t exist, connecting Cuba would cost some US $500,000, but it can’t be done because the Cuban companies never receive permission from the U.S State Department.”

The new cable however, passes almost entirely through international waters, but, “because of certain national and economic borders through which the United States attempts to impose its conditions, the length of the cable had to be extended by about 100 kilometres,” Orfila said.

The Cuban government hopes the project will improve communications on the island as well as help with the transmission of medical consultations, teleconferences, and educational courses.

Waldo Roboredo, vicepresident of the Venezuelan-Cuban company Telecomunicaciones de Gran Caribe, which will build the cable, said the system is expected to multiply data transmission and voice transmission speeds by 3,000-fold, the cable has a capacity of 640 gigabytes, 10 million simultaneous telephonic transmissions, and is 1,630 kilometres long. He said Cuba would also save 25% of its current satellite costs.

Nevertheless, both governments have been announcing that construction of the cable was due to start shortly since October 2009. The deadline of 2010- 2011 has been consistent however.

Discussions around the project first began in 2007 when Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez announced he would obtain a loan from China to cover the costs then signed the agreement with Cuba.

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