In January, we reported the news that the ALBA-1 submarine cable connecting Cuba to Venezuela had started carrying Internet traffic two years after its construction, answering the question of what happened to the mysterycable to Cuba.In the last week, we have observed a second non-satellite connection established for Cuban state telecom, ETECSA. This time a different segment of the ALBA-1 submarine cable is being used to connect Cuba to the neighboring island nation of Jamaica. At 15:04 UTC on 13 May 2013, we observed ETECSA beginning to receive international Internet service through Cable & Wireless Jamaica.
The graphic on the right shows the make up of Internet transit providers used by ETECSA to reach the global Internet since 1 January 2013. Telefonica showed up on 10 January when ALBA-1 began carrying Internet traffic. C&W Jamaica appears in yellow on 13 May. There is a brief dip in the Telefonica plot as ALBA-1 was offline for about eight hours on 15 March and for two hours on 17 March, something we tweeted.This past March, C&W Caribbean listed Cuba as one of the markets they planned to enter and fulfill the relationship signed three years prior when C&W Jamaica signed a partnership with the company established to oversee the ALBA-1 cable project, Cuban-Venezuelan joint venture Telecomunicaciones Gran Caribe (TGC).
Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present at LACNIC 19 in Medellin, Colombia. While there, I was able to speak to a manager from ETECSA. He said he and his staff had seen our blogs from January and confirmed that we were right about the initial asymmetric traffic misconfiguration of ALBA-1, which they fixed after a couple of days. It was pleasure to meet some of the people involved with this historic activation.
When we look at our recent traceroute measurement data into Cuba, we can see that the 13 May activation of ETECSA’s link to Jamaica followed some connectivity problems on 10 May, as there were brief decreases in the rate of completing measurements on that day, regardless of upstream provider. This was followed by a reduction in connectivity through Telefonica (purple) and then the C&W Jamaica (green) activation.
On the Telecom Venezuela website describing the ALBA-1 cable project, it mentions that the link to Jamaica is for restoration purposes (“El otro segmento para fines de restauración será entre Cuba y Jamaica”). So perhaps this activation is to help alleviate some minor connectivity issues experienced recently by ETECSA. Regardless, it is great news to see another submarine cable connection get activated for Cuba.