Cuba confirms undersea cable carrying data traffic

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 24, 2013 at 5:52 pm •  Published: January 24, 2013

HAVANA (AP) — Cuba's state telecom monopoly confirmed Thursday that the island's first hard-wired Internet connection to the outside world has been activated, but said it won't lead to an immediate increase in access.

In a statement published in Communist Party newspaper Granma and other official media, ETECSA broke its long silence on the ALBA-1 fiber-optic cable, which island officials once boasted would increase capacity 3,000-fold.

Until now Cuba's Internet has been strictly via ponderous satellite links, and out of reach for the great majority of islanders. ETECSA said the new cable has been operational since August, initially carrying international voice calls, and the company has been conducting data traffic tests on the cable since Jan. 10.

"When the testing process concludes, the submarine cable being put into operation will not mean that possibilities for access will automatically multiply," ETECSA said.

"It will be necessary to invest in internal telecommunications infrastructure," the company said, adding that even then the goal is "gradual growth of a service that we offer mostly for free and with social aims in mind."

The $70 million ALBA-1 arrived on the island from Venezuela in February 2011 to great hoopla, but officials soon stopped mentioning the cable amid rumors of mismanagement and corruption involving the project.

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