Update on Cuba Internet Cable

The laying of the cable from Venezuela to Santiago de Cuba was completed in February.

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, Nov 18 — The controversial fiber optic cable linking Venezuela and Cuba has been tested and is already secretly providing service to some government entities, reported the Cafe Fuerte website on Thursday.

Cuba’s Ministry of Telecommunications announced several years ago that the cable would increase the island’s data transmission capabilities 3,000 fold. However, the operational date has been steadily pushed back despite the cable’s arrival to Santiago de Cuba last February.

Unofficial reports in recent months have several top level officials, including a deputy minister, detained for corruption involving the cable deal. Kickbacks and the purchase of shabby materials are part of the unconfirmed rumors.

The news of the arrests was one more bucket of cold water over the aspirations of ordinary Cubans to have a chance to connect to the world via the Internet.

Previously, officials had made it clear that the expanded capabilities would not mean greater access or cheaper prices for the service, noting that government offices and businesses, schools, official journalists and other prioritized sectors would have faster service with the cable.

Individual citizens who wish to use the Internet currently pay US $6-8, around a third of an average monthly wage, for one hour of service at a tourist hotel.