A fibre-optic undersea cable that links Cuba with the global internet via Venezuela appears to have finally been activated, almost two years after the system first landed on the island. In the past week, internet monitoring firm Renesys has observed much lower latencies in Cuba, while noting that Spanish telecoms firm Telefonica has begun service to the island’s state-owned telecoms monopoly, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA). The 1,600km cable, known as Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra America (ALBA-1), landed on Siboney beach in Cuba in February 2011, but no further developments on the cable’s progress have been reported until now. In an online blog, Renesys noted that traffic via the cable seems only to be flowing into the country, not out of it: ‘Telefonica’s service to ETECSA is, either by design or misconfiguration, using its new cable asymmetrically (i.e. for traffic in only one direction)… In such a configuration, ETECSA enjoys greater bandwidth and lower latencies (along the submarine cable) when receiving internet traffic but continues to use satellite services for sending traffic.’ Cuba accesses the internet via expensive and slow satellite connections, and while the activation of the undersea cable system is a first steps towards providing ETECSA with a better link to the internet, Renesys noted that it is unlikely to lead to widespread public access to the World Wide Web, in the short term at least.
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