Cuba gets second undersea connection via French cable

CUBA STANDARD — Providing Cuba with a second undersea fiberoptic connection, a subsidiary of French communications operator Orange S.A. will lay a cable from Martinique to the southwest coast of the island, Cuban state telecom Etecsa announced.  

The agreement, signed Dec. 7 in Havana, came just days after the Biden administration denied a request by Hanover, Md.-based C&W Networks to connect Cuba to the United States via the ARCOS-1 undersea cable network.

The cable from Martinique — Cuba’s second since Venezuela originally connected the island to the World Wide Web in 2013 with the ALBA-1 cable — is expected to improve internet, voice and data bandwidth for Cuban users. Via Martinique, Orange-owned cables connect to Europe, the United States, and Brazil. ALBA-1, which connects Cuba to both Venezuela and Jamaica, has reached capacity, according to Etecsa.

Orange Marine is in charge of installing the “Arimao” cable, running 2,500 kilometers from the French overseas department to the city of Cienfuegos. Arimao should be operational later in 2023. Neither of the partners disclosed any financial or technical details.

Etecsa President Tania Velázquez and Orange Vice President Jean-Luc Vuillemin celebrating the start of the cable project. Photo courtesy Etecsa

In late November, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission rejected a proposal by the operator of the ARCOS-1 cable system for a landing station of an undersea cable to Cuba, citing “unacceptable risks” for national security. ARCOS-1, connecting the United States with 14 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, wanted to build a landing station in Cojimar, an eastern suburb of Havana.

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