Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (Etecsa) announced on Wednesday, December 7, that it signed an agreement with the French company Orange SA to expand and diversify its international services, in order to install a submarine fiber optic cable between Martinique and the Cuban province of Cienfuegos.
This submarine connection will aim to support Etecsa’s international expansion, and at the same time meet the growing demand for Internet and broadband services.
Orange Marine, a subsidiary of Orange, will take on the task of deploying the submarine cable.
Once the project is completed in 2023, the country will have a new route for its international services, thus diversifying existing connectivity.
In addition, the connection will provide the country with the possibility of further expanding international connectivity, depending on economic possibilities.
The project already has all the necessary permits for its deployment.
The U.S. position
Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice recommended to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny the license for the installation of the first submarine telecommunications cable between the U.S. and Cuba.
This was because the Cuban government represents a “counterintelligence threat” according to the United States, and because ETECSA would manage the cable landing system, allowing Havana “access to sensitive U.S. data traveling through the new cable segment”.
Despite this recommendation, the Department of Justice maintains its commitment to “promote the use of the Internet in Cuba”, although they clarified that the country remains a counterintelligence threat to the US.
Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez criticized the recommendation made by the Department of Justice.
Cuban Deputy Foreign Minister Carlos Fernández de Cossío also criticized the DOJ recommendation on Twitter.
The ALBA-1 cable
The ALBA-1 submarine cable is an important telecommunications infrastructure that allows Cuba’s connection with Venezuela and Jamaica.
Deployed in 2011 and put into operation in 2013, the cable has a bandwidth of 640 Gbps and is the only fiber optic communications medium connecting Cuba to the rest of the world.
With a length of 1,602 kilometers, the ALBA-1 project cost US$70 million.
Its name comes from the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA).