Report: Cuba using undersea fiber-optic cable

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm •  Published: January 21, 2013
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Dial-up Internet access, essentially the only option for most Cubans who are able to go online, has continued to be slow and creaky in recent days.

Cuba is the last country in the western hemisphere to get a fiber-optic hookup and, according to Akamai Technologies Inc., has the second-lowest Internet connectivity rates in the world.

Havana says about 16 percent of Cubans are online in some capacity, mostly through work or school, but often that's limited to email and access to an island Intranet. Just 2.9 percent report having full Internet access, though analysts say it's probably more like 5 or 10 percent due to underreporting of black-market resale of minutes.

"While the activation of the ALBA-1 cable may be a good first step to providing ETECSA a better link to the Internet, the lack of widespread public access to Internet service throughout the island will likely continue," Madory wrote.

The $70 million cable strung from Venezuela came onshore in eastern Cuba in February 2011 and was supposed to be online as early as that summer.

But officials suddenly stopped talking about the cable amid rumors of arrests at ETECSA and the Ministry of Communications, and whispers of purported mismanagement or embezzlement involving the project.

Last May, Venezuela's minister of science and technology said the cable was operational and it was up to Cuba to decide how it wanted to use it.

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Peter Orsi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Peter_Orsi