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Cuba’s New $70 Million Internet Pipe

Cuban Internet Pipe - Coming Soon

Last week, an undersea cable joining Cuba with Venezuela was completed, a process that took nearly 3 weeks and $70 million. A second leg will connect Cuba with Jamaica which will become operational this summer. These new cables will increase internet capacity by 3000% and, according to Prensa Latina, are “a breach” in the longstanding US trade embargo against the island.

The Venezuela link runs some 1500 kilometers and comes in through the city of Santiago de Cuba in the eastern part of the island. The fiber was laid down by Alcatel-Lucent, a French company.

Not that private citizens will be able to easily reap the benefits, since currently, practically no private citizens have internet access, not officially anyway. Some channels can be employed to access the web, but the Cuban government doesn’t make it easy. And most residents have blamed the government for stalling Internet access because they want to control information.

Ostensibly, the ruling party wants to change that, making access much easier at schools, hospitals, and scientific institutions. Considering this a thumb in the eye to the US for the trade embargo that has been in place for decades, the Cuban government is looking to broaden the reach to more of its own citizens, who are largely very well educated, compared to their standard of living.

Funded indirectly by Venezuela, Hugo Chavez paid handsomely for privilege of allowing Venezuela new access to Cuban citizens, while the brothers Castro make a nice chunk of change in the process.

The arrival of the new pipe has raised expectations in Cuba and some wonder if this will lead to more connectivity for residents, perhaps leading to increased usage of social sites like Twitter and Facebook. Will the same thing that happened in Egypt happen in Cuba as a result of more communication? Probably not initially. However, this is a step in the right direction.

Photo courtesy of Martha de Jong-Lantink
Photo courtesy of Bitpicture.