Cuba activates first-ever fiber optic cable

February 17, 2013

fiber optic cable outdoorCuba has long lagged behind its regional counterparts in telecommunications and Internet technologies, trailing even neighboring Haiti in numbers of mobile phone users and per capita internet access.

But in January Cuba took a big step forward in potential connectivity with the activation of its first fiber-optic cable connection. Although the cable linking Cuba and Venezuela is not yet fully operational, it can provide a much faster, much less expensive data transmission than the island’s current communications systems, which relied exclusively on satellite hook ups. Experts estimate that the new cable has the technical capacity to increase by up to 3,000-fold Cuba’s capacity to send and receive data.

Despite this recent progress, questions remain about how quickly Cuba’s national telecoms provider can bring the cable sufficiently online to noticeably boost the functionality of mobile phone devices and the average user’s Internet speeds. Also unknown is whether the new cable will lead to significantly improved communications links between the United States and Cuba.