February 10, 2011

Cuba Praises Underwater Fiber Optic Project

On Wednesday, Cuba praised its new undersea fiber optic cable connecting the island to Venezuela.

"This cable reinforces our sovereignty and opens a gap in the genocidal blockade imposed by successive American governments," Cuban Information and Communications Minister Medardo Diaz said during a ceremony in Santiago de Cuba, 540 miles southeast of Havana.

The cable laying is valued at $70 million and considered one of the most ambitious projects between oil-rich Venezuela and Cuba.

The cable was run 994 miles from Camuri, in northern Venezuela, before reaching its destination on Tuesday.

When the cable is available, it is expected to allow a connection of up to 640 gigabytes a second with download speeds 3,000 faster than what Cuba has now.

Havana said the 1962 U.S. trade embargo on Cuba forced it to resort to costlier and slower satellite connections for Internet access.

Authorities say Internet use will be limited to "social" purposes and that priority would be given to developing public Internet access centers, especially in universities and other educational institutions.

On Monday, Deputy Minister of Information Jorge Luis Perdomo insisted that "there is no political obstacle" to Internet access in Cuba.

However, the opposition and dissidents say the government is imposing ideological restrictions that aim to maintain authorities' control on sources of information and expression.

The new cable "will remain at the service of our people, a tool to reinforce its development, integration and sovereignty," Diaz said.

Jamaica is the next country on the cable's route.