Internet in Cuba and the New Fiber Optic Cable

Map of underwater sea cables all-around Cuba. Picture:

By DeFacto (El Toque)

HAVANA Situations – An agreement signed concerning Cuba and French company Orange LLC. to set up a submarine communications cable among Cuba and Martinique turned general public news on December 7, 2022.

Seven times just before, the United States Department of Justice had made a advice to the Federal Communications Fee to reject the authorization ask for made by the organizations ARCOS-1 United states Inc. and SurNet Inc., considering the fact that 2018, to connect a fiber optic cable among the US and Cuba.

The worldwide Arimao submarine cable, which commenced to be installed at the Tricontinental Port in Cienfuegos, touched land in Martinique in the French abroad Division on January 10, 2023, according to ETECSA. A branch of the Orange Group, named Orange Marine, is accountable for the specialized do the job.

The Cuban telecommunications organization also introduced that the possibility of “expanding and diversifying international capacity in the deal with of rising desire for Web and broadband services,” are some of the added benefits of putting in the second fiber optic cable to the island, which joins the cable that already exists involving Cuba and Venezuela (which requires its identify from the abbreviation of Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our The united states, ALBA-1).

Industrial relations between ETECSA and Orange LLC. appear at a time when Cubans are complaining about consistent Internet cuts and a slower relationship than usual.  Having said that, statements from officials and transient posts on social media never clarify what enhancements will come with the new fiber optic cable. Nor have they provided aspects about operate designs agreed with Orange LLC. The commence day of the providers of this cable contradict one yet another.

What do we know about fiber optic cables in Cuba? 

Nearly 99% of complete Web targeted visitors arrives from undersea cables, the authentic “backbone” of world-wide telecommunications. Even though Cuba is located in just one of the places with the best density of submarine fiber optic cables, it has difficulties accessing the World wide web, as most of its connections occur by way of satellites. This prospects to World-wide-web access getting a lot far more high-priced and sluggish. Therefore, information of the settlement with Orange is really critical.

Looking at the map of undersea cables, you can see that 4 fiber optic cables are at this time touching Cuban soil: Arimao (which connects the island to Martinique), ALBA-1, and anoter two that belong to the US Federal government and hook up the Guantanamo Bay Naval Foundation with Florida (GTMO-1) and Puerto Rico (GTMO PR). 

Nevertheless, ALBA-1, the 1st fiber optic cable that connected Cuba to Venezuela and Jamaica, is the only a single that offers World-wide-web expert services to Cubans.

In 2007, Cuba and Venezuela announced they would set up a submarine cable which would be ready to multiply the details transmission, which include photos and voice messages, that come and leave from Cuba, in accordance to its technical description.

Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe led the task, a blended Cuban-Venezuelan enterprise, that belongs to both of those countries’ point out-led telecommunications businesses. Preparatory operate began in 2009 and the installation of 1630 km of cable started in January 2011. It touched soil in Santiago de Cuba a thirty day period later, according to condition-controlled media.

Gran Caribe had announced that the submarine cable would commence operations at the starting of the second semester of 2011 but it wasn’t right until January 2013 that ETECSA released a assertion that the method had been operating considering the fact that August 2012.

The news stifled any hope Cubans experienced about improved or greater World-wide-web accessibility across the nation. “A submarine cable doing work does not instantly necessarily mean that there are increased choices to entry the Internet,” the Cuban organization pointed out.

In a Twitter thread about the begin of set up is effective of the Arimao cable, consumers ended up skeptical of the job being a solution to Online connection complications in Cuba.

How lengthy has the Arimao challenge been in the works?

A file from Martinique authorities points out Orange LLC., represented by Carine ROMANETTI, head of the “Strategy, Network and Submarine Systems” department of the European entity, filed a request for the submarine telecommunications cable that would join Cuba to Martinique, on November 15, 2021. Set up and Procedure permits weren’t permitted till April 2022.

The report also factors out that the project, spanning 2470 kms, “lands in the Schoelcher municipality, on Madiana beach front (…), and connects to the land community installed in 2018, to accommodate the Kanawa telecommunications cable (owned by Orange), coming from French Guiana. The total charge of the operates would be 1,200,343 EUR, including tax, the report mentioned.

Through the start out of is effective to deploy the technique in Cuba, Jean Luc Vuillemin, president of Orange’s Worldwide Networks, said that a station experienced been constructed in parallel to household technical services, in line with world wide trends. This is 1 of the quite couple of technical details we have about the cable up until now.

Statements from ETECSA’s government director about the challenge only refer to the possible diversification of worldwide connections and growing services, as it has a better capacity than the global ALBA-1 relationship. Nonetheless, she explains that this will only come about when the island’s economic problem allows for it.

Nor is it obvious when the cable will begin to work. In this regard, Granma newspaper published that it would be up and functioning in the second semester of this 12 months, whilst Cubadebate and National Television are talking about April.

Anticipations have developed with the arrival of this new opportunity to increase connectivity but it looks that it will however be a although ahead of Cubans are capable to appreciate excellent cellphone and Online companies without having coverage troubles. This does not all depend on just just one submarine cable though.

What are Cuba’s Web link problems?

Some Online accessibility troubles in Cuba go past people joined satellite and submarine cable connections. Complaints about the good quality and steadiness of this support is repeated on social media, although official organizations propose 50 percent-cooked solutions.

Studies tell us that above 6.7 million Cubans connect to the World-wide-web making use of mobile information the amount of people grew by about a million in 2022 by itself. This amplified quantity of website traffic is reflected in a user’s common regular consumption around the past yr, which went up by more than 1.5 gigabytes for each subscriber. The penalties? Network congestion, brought on by inadequate wi-fi providers and the absence of new technologies and products.

With ALBA-1’s capacity to the max and wireless connections that haven’t been set up in properties, countrywide need isn’t staying happy these days, Tania Velazquez Rodrigue, ETECSA’s president, explained. She also identified that there are bottlenecks in intercontinental calls.

Prior to ETECSA’s government director gave a statement to condition-controlled media, Ricardo Serrano, the company’s provincial director in Santiago de Cuba, told nearby Tv set channel Tele Turquino that there are other motives for very poor high-quality World wide web connections.

On the plan Santiago Hoy, issued on August 24, 2022, Serrano described that radio bases are affected by blackouts, as they have backup ability with batteries that can maintain them functioning for somewhere around 3 several hours.

It was not till late January that Velazquez Rodriguez admitted that only 25% of the over 5000 radio bases installed in the nation have backup power. He also described that the country did not purchase all of the devices simply because units have been so pricey (30,000 USD).

Ricardo Serrano pointed out that an additional rationale for Online relationship troubles has to do with the use of 4G (fourth era of broadband) in Cuba, making issues with voice transmission. “4G is a community to accessibility the Web, and people are working with it to discuss you have 2G and 3G to talk,” Serrano clarified.

The government pretends he doesn’t know about VoLTE technological innovation that enables you to make phone calls working with 4G and rather blames users for working with it incorrect. His rationalization exhibits how a smartphone that operates with 4G improvements the network to 3G or 2G when it tends to make or receives a phone.

This scenario has two outcomes: weak audio high-quality, and problems navigating the Internet throughout a cellphone simply call. Loads of the time, the unit stays connected to the slowest network. Individuals suggest activating and deactivating “airplane mode” to join the cellphone yet again. Nevertheless, this system isn’t generally an helpful alternative.

Velazquez also gave a statement about reusing the frequency spectrum, which is vital with cellphones. It has to do with the “channels” the signal travels via to arrive at smartphones and enables you to make phone calls or connect to the Internet.

2G and 3G in Cuba use a bandwidth of 900 MHz. Whilst 4G networks applying a bandwidth of 1800 MHz will also be made use of by 900 MHz.

The technological definitions point out that even though the frequency is lessen (700 or 800 MHz), they can travel lengthier distances without the need of dropping depth and can penetrate closed spaces better. On the other hand, bigger frequencies (2100 or 2600 MHz) have a higher bandwidth, but they arrive at shorter distances and are weaker. This is why the environment opts for lessen frequencies for a lot more fashionable systems.

So, how productive will a person of ETECSA’s possibilities be to revert the saturated network if it commences making use of new frequencies, these kinds of as 2100 MHz (which is a great deal increased than the frequencies utilised now)? 

In Cuba, 4G could work at a bandwidth of 700 MHz, which is really eye-catching, since it will allow for better coverage with less infrastructure. But the challenge listed here is that this is the bandwidth made use of for analog TVs and the system of partially transitioning to digital Tv set is going quite slowly and gradually. Enabling the 700 MHz frequency for cell networks is only getting worked on in two provinces: Pinar del Rio and Artemisa.

Cuba does not have technological guidance to fulfill countrywide desire for Internet entry. The Speedtest International Index, a global rating that publishes a classification of cell and set bandwidth speeds across the globe, has ranked Cuba as one particular of the worst countries in the entire world when it comes to link pace. In December 2022, Cuba was ranked no. 140 out of 141 for mobile network and very last for preset networks.

High-priced cell Web prices and deliberate cuts by ETECSA, as a condition monopoly, are also obstacles for Web entry in Cuba.

Examine extra from Cuba listed here on Havana Periods

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