Cuba Trials Internet Traffic via its first Undersea Cable - ALBA-1

Renesys analyst Mr. Doug Madory found earlier this month that Cuba had activated Internet traffic via its first undersea cable “Alternativa Bolivariana para los Pueblos de nuestra América" (ALBA-1)landed at Siboney beach, Santiago de Cuba and linking Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela. And as reported by FOXNEWS, Cuba's state telecom monopoly confirmed on January 24 that the island's first hard-wired Internet connection to the outside world has been activated, but said it won't lead to an immediate increase in access.

About the ALBA-1 cable

According to TeleGeography and other media, the ALBA-1 is a 1860 km submarine cable linking Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela, which was first announced in January 2007, with a design capacity of 5.12 Tbps. Venezuelan/Cuban joint venture Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe (TGC) was granted a licence in November 2009 to install a submarine cable between Caracas (Venezuela), Havana (Cuba) and Kingston (Jamaica). TGC was the sole bidder for the concession, which includes a spur to Haiti. TGC is 60% owned by state-run Telecom Venezuela with the remainder held by Cuba’s Telco Transbit.

Alcatel-Lucent was awarded the contract to provide turn-key solution for the construction of the ALBA-1 submarine cable system, with a final cost of US$70 million. The ALBA-1 cable landed at Siboney beach, Santiago de Cuba on February 9, 2011. But the activation for service hit delay after delay. Cuba kept silent on the delay of this missing submarine cable. And the ALBA-1 cable was activated in last August.

Alive Internet traffic over the ALBA-1 cable

In early January, Renesys’ global monitoring system picked up indications that the ALBA-1 cable has finally been activated, with live Internet traffic over the ALBA-1 cable system.

Before the activation of Internet traffic over the ALBA-1 cable, Cuba's Internet limped along on high-latency satellite service via three different Internet service providers. Until Jan 14, Renesys monitored and noticed that Spanish telecom giant Telefonica began service to Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA), the state telecom of Cuba.

And Renesys also observed traceroutes into Cuba following a new path via Telefonica and recording significantly lower latencies. The fact that the latencies to Cuba from many locations around the world have dropped below 480ms means that the new Telefonica service cannot be entirely via satellite. However, if it were solely via submarine cables, expected latencies from many nearby countries would be less than 50ms.

Renesys concluded that the Cuban Internet should partially run through the sole submarine cable linking Cuba, i.e., the ALBA-1 submarine cable system. And on the same day that Renesys saw the first evidence of the ALBA-1 cable, Cuba eliminated the requirement of an exit visa for its people to travel outside the country.

According to FOXNEWS, Cuba's state telecom monopoly acknowledged the test of Internet traffic over the ALBA-1.

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