Cuba receives first subsea connection?

21 January 2013 |


The Alba-1 cable linking Cuba and Venezuela has reportedly gone live, nearly two years after being completed.

Research firm Renesys says that its global monitoring system has picked up indications that the cable has been activated, although in a “rather curious way”.

On Monday last week the firm observed that Telefónica has begun service to Cuban state telco Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA).

Trade routes into Cuba are also following a new path via Telefónica, leading to significantly lower latencies from four cities (see picture).

Cuba had previously been dependent on high latency satellite connections from Tata, NewCom and Intelsat for internet service, according to Renesys.

Despite the drop, Renesys’ measured latencies to Cuba are still quite high, but the fact that the latencies have dropped below 480ms suggests the connection is not entirely satellite-based.

Renesys went on to explain that if the route were entirely subsea-based it would expect latencies of 50ms.

The research firm concludes that Telefónica’s service to ETECSA is “either by design or misconfiguration” using the cable for traffic in only one direction.

In this situation ETECSA is able to receive greater bandwidth and lower latencies along the cable but continues to use satellite to send traffic.

Renesys acknowledged that the activation of the cable was a good first step but expects the lack of widespread public internet access to continue in the country.

It was also noted that on the same day the cable appeared to activate Cuba removed the requirement of an exit visa for its citizens to travel outside of the country. 

If Renesys is correct, the activation of the Alba-1 cable could have a significant impact on the country’s infrastructure. In 2012, Waldo Reboredo, VP of Etecsa, stated that the fibre-optic cable “would reduce the costs of current operation by 25%”. For Capacity's full report on Cuba click here.