Has Cuba activated a dormant undersea cable connecting it to the global Internet?

Has Cuba activated a dormant undersea cable connecting it to the global Internet?

A two year old undersea cable – the only one connecting the Island of Cuba to the global Internet has seemingly been activated, according to a report by the Internet monitoring company Renesys.

[Update, 2013-01-22: The cable has been fully activated.]

The company says that the “Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra América” (ALBA-1) fibre optic cable, which connects Cuba to the wider Internet via Jamaica and Venezuela has shown signs of activation in the past week.  But it reports that there is a mystery surrounding the cable’s current use.

“[Since 2011] Cuba’s Internet has still limped along on high-latency satellite service via three different Internet service providers. That is, until last Monday [January 14 2013] when we noticed that Spanish telecom giant Telefonica began service to Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA), the state telecom of Cuba.”

However, the apparent activation of the cable has caused some confusion.  The company reports that while it has detected lower latency levels in Cuban Internet traffic the levels are still higher than they should be over such a cable.

Renesys’ research suggests that Cuba’s national telecommunications company is by “design or misconfiguration” using the undersea cable to receive Internet traffic but is still relying on satellites to send traffic.

The company says that the timing of the activation was interesting, as it happened on the same day that Cuba removed its exit visa requirements for its citizens;

“On the same day last week that we saw the first evidence of the ALBA-1 cable, Cuba eliminated the requirement of an exit visa for its people to travel outside the country. Could these two developments be part of a greater trend towards a freer and more open Cuba?”

View Comments (2)


  1. hcapiro@aol.com'


    January 21, 2013 at 4:59 AM

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL: RESTRICTIONS ON FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN CUBA-  Amnesty International Publications 2010 CONTROL OF INTERNET ACCESS In Cuba, access to the internet remains under state control. It is regulated by the Law of Security of Information, which prohibits access to internet services from private homes. Therefore, the internet in Cuba has a social vocation and remains accessible at education centres, work-places and other public institutions. Internet can also be accessed in hotels but at a high cost. In October 2009, the government adopted a new law allowing the Cuban Postal Services to establish cyber-cafés in its premises and offer internet access to the public. However, home connections are not yet allowed for the vast majority of Cubans and only those favoured by  the government are able to access the internet from their own homes. However, many blogs are not accessible from within Cuba because the Cuban authorities have put in place filters restricting access. The blogs affected are mainly those that openly criticize the Cuban government and its restrictions on freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly and movement. For example, Generation Y is one of the dozens of blogs that are filtered or intermittently blocked by the government and are not accessible inside Cuba.   http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AMR25/005/2010/en/62b9caf8-8407-4a08-90bb-b5e8339634fe/amr250052010en.pdf

  2. marcel@zunzun.ca'


    January 21, 2013 at 11:29 AM

    So happy to here this news. It is wonderful for Cubans and their friends and family on the island and abroad. This is just great!  :)

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Piers Dillon-Scott is co-editor of The Sociable and writes about stuff he finds. He likes technology, media, and using the Oxford comma (because it just makes sense).

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