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Undersea Cable to Provide Internet Access to Millions of Cubans

February 09, 2011

Undersea Cable to Provide Internet Access to Millions of Cubans

By Beecher Tuttle
TMCnet Contributor

The Cuban government held a ceremony today  to celebrate the arrival of an underwater fiber optic cable, that will help connect the island nation with the rest of the world, according to the Associated Press (News - Alert).

Disseminating from Venezuela, the near 1,000-mile cable will provide Cuban citizens with adequate Internet access and more moderately-priced telephone rates.

Over the last few decades, Cuba has been forced to rely on satellites to manage their communication needs. The country's lack of a direct connection to the outside world, along with its subpar internal infrastructure, has left Cuba with the second slowest Internet speeds in the world, behind only the remote island chain of Mayotte, according to Akamai (News - Alert) Technologies.

Citing a recent report by Cuba's National Statistics Office, the AP notes that only 2.9 percent of the Cuban population has spent time on the Internet over the last year – the vast majority of whom did so while at school or work.

The fiber optic cable will be tested over the next few months and should be operational by July of this year. Cuban officials speculate that the cabling system should boost Internet speeds by 3,000-fold. The undersea infrastructure will also drastically reduce telephone rates for the island nation, which has had difficulty connecting itself to the rest of the world, since the U.S. trade embargo was established nearly 50 years ago.

However, Cuban deputy minister of information, Jorge Luis Perdomo, made it clear that the cable is not a "magic wand," according to the AFP. Perdomo said the Caribbean nation will first have to improve upon its infrastructure in order to make Internet access available to the masses.

The fiber optic cable was built by telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent. The project, which began only a few weeks ago, will end up costing Cuba around $70 million.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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