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Thousand-mile cable to counter U.S. blockade

Cuba-Venezuela Communications Project on the Move

HAVANA, June 9 [ACN] – Venezuelan and Cuban specialists have
finished mapping out a 1,550 kilometer highway of underwater fiber-
optics cable linking the two countries.

Two pairs of fiber-optics cables will run from the Venezuelan state of
Vargas to the province of Santiago de Cuba, potentially increasing the
island’s international communications capacity by 3,000 times upon
completion by 2010.

Wilfredo Morales, who heads the Gran Caribe Telecommunications Co. —a
joint venture created to manage the project—, said the cable will break
the US blockade that forces the island to use more expensive and
vulnerable satellite services for connections abroad.

The idea to connect Cuba and Venezuela by sea goes far beyond laying
more than 1,500 kilometers of cable. In addition to the technical
challenges of placing the cable that will lie in areas as deep as 5,400
meters, the top coordinator for Venezuela, Lilian Rivas, spoke about the
political elements involved: “the issue of territorial waters, the
blockade and the search for reliable suppliers.”

“If it weren’t for the blockade Cuba could connect for a cost of US
$500,000. The companies can’t do it because they don’t have permission
from the US Department of State and/or attempts by the State Department
to impose unacceptable conditions on Cuba,” said Carlos Orfila, an
engineer working as a project consultant to the Venezuelan Ministry of

Orfila also noted that because of conditions imposed by the US blockade
on national borders and economic zones, the cable route between La
Guaira and Santiago is being drawn almost entirely in international
waters, in addition to both technical and cost aspects. For those
reasons the cable has to be extended by 100 kilometers.

With a total capacity of 640 Gigabytes, 320 for each pair of fibers, and
state-of-the-art technology, the Cuban-Venezuelan cable will guarantee
communication independence for both countries, something that is
impossible via satellite.

Orfila said the project will take advantage of Venezuelan
telecommunications experience, especially in cellular telephone
technology, fiber optics and its entering into satellite administration;
and will employ Cuba’s Backbone system to extend the fiber optics
network to most of the country.

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