HAVANA – Cuba’s government announced Thursday that the underwater fiber-optic cable that arrived on the island in 2011 to improve its Internet connectivity has been operating since last year, though it said there will not be an automatic increase in Web access as a result.
“The ALBA-1 telecommunications system, which links Cuba with Venezuela and Jamaica via submarine fiber-optic cable, has been operational since August 2012, initially carrying voice traffic,” state-owned utility ETECSA said in a statement.
The communique marks the first time since the cable arrived on the island nearly two years ago that President Raul Castro’s government has provided an update on its status.
“Quality testing of Internet traffic on the system began on Jan. 10,” ETECSA said.
The company said, however, that the conclusion of testing will not automatically mean increased Internet access for Cubans.
Web access is very restricted on the island, where only a handful of individuals are allowed to have Internet connection in their homes.
“Investments in domestic telecommunications infrastructure will be needed and foreign exchange earnings must be increased to pay for Internet traffic, with the aim of achieving gradual growth in a service that today we mostly provide for free,” ETECSA said.
The Cuban government blames its Internet connectivity problems on the 50-year-old U.S. economic embargo, saying that policy forces Cuba to access the Web via slow, expensive satellite links. EFE