International Telecommunications Union, a new undersea data cable connected to Cuba this week will increase the amount of the country's data and video transmission speed 3,000-fold when it becomes operation this summer.According to a press release from the
The ALBA-1 cable arrived in Siboney on February 9th, linking the eastern Cuban town to the cable's start-point in the Venezuelan port city of La Guaira. The second part of the project will lead from Cuba to Ochos Rios in Jamaica.
The Prestige of the Internet
The Venezuela-Cuba joint project has been advertised as a triumph against the United States embargo of the island nation. Venezuela's Gran Caribe and Cuba's Transbit hired a Chinese subsidiary of the French company Alcatel-Lucent to lay the cable at a cost of $70 million. It took 19 days for the specialized cable-laying ship, Île de Batz to make the journey from Venezuela.
The project is an indication of how important the Internet is, even to countries whose relationship to communications is antagonistic. Currently, virtually no private Cuban citizens can secure an Internet connection. To blog, Cuba's small blogger community must copy their posts onto a thumb-drive and sneak into a dollar-only hotel to post, or to email the post to compatriots outside the country.
According to a leaked diplomatic cable, the Cuban government is more afraid of this small but powerful group of bloggers than it is of its entire old-style dissident population.
Nevertheless, according to the press release:
"Cuban officials say the country's priority will be to build more public telecentres and improve Internet access at schools, hospitals and scientific institutions."