Cuba wary of first US-Cuba fiber line
By ANDREA RODRIGUEZ
A top Cuban communications official said Monday that the communist
government is wary of a Miami company's plan to run a fiber optic cable
to the island and it hasn't yet even been asked for permission.
TeleCuba Communications Inc. announced on Oct. 13 that it had received
U.S. Treasury Department approval to lay about 110 miles (175
kilometers) of cable from Florida to Cuban territory — seemingly a
significant dent in the U.S. embargo against the island.
But Francisco Hartmann, director of strategy for Cuba's national Office
of Information, said his government has "no official knowledge that
there is interest to negotiate" such a project, and he indicated they
may frown on it if asked.
"If all the information that we have passes by cable to Florida, that
technological independence, the sovereignty that for us is so important,
what will happen to it?" he asked at a news conference.
TeleCuba said the cable, following the route of a defunct 1950s copper
telephone cable from Key West, Florida, to the Havana suburb of Cojimar
could be operational by the middle of 2011.
It acknowledged that it had not obtained Cuban permission to bring the
cable ashore. No one answered the phone at TeleCuba's office on Monday.
Instead of the TeleCuba proposal, Hartmann said Cuba is content to wait
for a much longer, 960-mile (1,550-kilometer) undersea cable that its
socialist ally Venezuela plans to run to the island.
Work on that project has not begun either, though Venezuelan officials
said it could be finished "in less than two years" when they announced
it in February 2007.
Venezuela's science and technology minister, Jesse Chacon, said recently
that work on his country's line to the island would begin soon.
Cuba is the only nation in the Western Hemisphere that is not linked to
the outside world by fiber optics. Instead, it relies on slow, expensive
satellite links, mostly from Europe, because Washington's 47-year-old
embargo prevents most trade between the island and the United States.
A fiber link would likely mean cheaper overseas phone calls and faster
Internet service for Cubans, though the government imposes strict limits
on access to cyberspace.
Cuba wary of first US-Cuba fiber line – BusinessWeek (26 October 2009)