Saturday, October 23, 2010

Venezuela, Cuba to begin laying undersea fiber optic cable in early 2011, diplomat says

Venezuela, Cuba to begin laying undersea fiber optic cable in early
2011, diplomat says
October 23, 2010
(Canadian Press DataFile Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) CARACAS, Venezuela

Work to lay an undersea fiber optic cable that will dramatically improve
telecommunications in Cuba should begin by February, Cuba's ambassador
to Venezuela said Friday.

Ambassador Rogelio Polanco said the line should start working in
mid-2011 _ about two years after initial projections.

Venezuela's government has an agreement with Paris-based Alcatel-Lucent
SA to produce and install the fiber optic line, a project first
announced in 2007.

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 because the U.S. government's embargo has prevented most
trade between the island and the United States and has made companies in
other countries shy away from doing business with Cuba.

The link would likely mean cheaper overseas phone calls and faster
Internet service for Cubans, though the Cuban government imposes strict
limits on access to cyberspace.

``Soon Cuba and Venezuela can count on a connection by undersea fiber
optic cable that will allow the development of our communications,
access to the Web ... in conditions that are more favourable for Cuba _
impeded today by the blockade,'' Polanco said at a news conference.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been a staunch supporter of Cuba,
helping it survive economic difficulties.

Polanco said more than 40,000 Cubans now work in the South American
country in roles ranging from doctors staffing free clinics to sports
trainers. In payment, Venezuela ships badly needed oil to the island.

Cuban officials have said previously that the undersea cable project is
expected to cost about $70 million.

Polanco said the cable is to be laid from the Venezuelan port of La
Guaira and would reach the eastern Cuban city of Santiago.

``They are doing civil construction work at the two points where the
cable is going to go, and it should then start to be laid toward the end
of the month of January, early February,'' Polanco told The Associated
Press. ``We think that in late June, early July it could be working.''

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