Cuba's Undersea Internet Link To Venezuela Goes Live, But Most Citizens See No Benefit

The list of nations living in a mostly disconnected state continues to shrink, and that's a good thing. Cuba most certainly has access to the Internet, but it definitely isn't topping the list of countries that offer the highest speeds at the lowest prices. But now, an undersea cable of the fiber optic variety has been laid and connected -- Cuba is now linked to Venezuela in terms of ones and zeros that pass along intel through the world wide web. The line was just switched on this week, marking a huge milestone. Previously, Cuba was unable to join other undersea fiber optic networks because of a U.S. embargo.

The line also links to Jamaica, but unfortunately, state telecom company Etecsa has affirmed that Cuba won't be lifting its Internet restrictions now that the cable is there. In other words, only the government and select individuals will be able to actually take advantage of the new line, leaving most common citizens wanting. In part, the company stated: "Since last January 10, we began to perform quality testing of Internet traffic on the system. They are conducted using real traffic to and from Cuba. It will be necessary to make investments in the domestic telecommunications infrastructure and increase foreign exchange resources to pay for Internet traffic in order to achieve the gradual growth of a service we provide mostly for free today." The cable stretches nearly 1000 miles, and cost around $70 million to implement.

On one hand, this effort frees Cuba from the slow satellite access it had been using. But on the other, one has to wonder what the real use is. If the government is still controlling access to the Internet, and common citizens can't tap into it -- what's the point?