Renesys, which operates as an Internet monitoring agency, is reporting that Cuba’s fiber optic cable connection to Venezuela is officially operational. Cuba began using the ALBA-1 fiber optic cable on January 14, 2013 and was previously connected to the rest of the world by only a satellite feed.
Renesys, which monitors Internet traffic around the globe, stated that until recently the nation’s Internet connection was much slower due to being stuck with satellite feed. In February 2011 Cuba successfully connected their Island to Venezuela via an underwater fiber-optic cable, but it remained un-operative for nearly 2 years.
Doug Madory who writes for Renesys said that they immediately observed the Caribbean nation’s trace route path going through the Spanish owned, Telefonica. This new connection, coupled with lower latencies, led them to the conclusion the system was up and running, albeit less than 100%. Madory writes:
We believe it is likely that Telefonica's service to ETECSA is, either by design or misconfiguration, using its new cable asymmetrically (i.e., for traffic in only one direction), similar to the situation we observed in Lebanon in 2011. In such a configuration, ETECSA enjoys greater bandwidth and lower latencies (along the submarine cable) when receiving Internet traffic but continues to use satellite services for sending traffic.
Named the "Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra América" or ALBA-1, the submarine fiber-optic cable was a product of the both Cuba and Venezuela’s state-owned media agencies. The cable cost approximately 70 million U.S. dollars and would have gone on-line much earlier, however, numerous political problems caused its delay. According to the Associated Press, there were also rumors of a possible embezzlement by government officials that hindered its progress.
Cuba is the last country in the western hemisphere to connect to the Internet by a fiber-optic line. Even with this new connection Akamai Technologies Inc. says the nation has the 2nd lowest connectivity to the Internet in the world.