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CWC Welcomes Cuba from the Cold

Published:Wednesday | December 24, 2014 | 12:00 AMNeville Graham
Contributed Back in 2011, then Cuban ambassador to Jamaica, Yuri Ariel Gala Lopez (left), CWC's Head of Government Relations and Regulatory Affairs and Chairman of LIME Jamaica, Chris Dehring (centre), and Ricardo Menendez, Venezuela's minister of science, technology and intermediate industries, sign one of the buoys which was used to show where a new undersea fibre optic cable linking Jamaica with Cuba and ultimately with Venezuela, was located in the sea after it arrived in Ocho Rios, St. Ann, Jamaica.

Cable and Wireless Caribbean is salivating at the prospect of greater connectivity and bigger business as Cuba comes in from the cold after 50 years of United States-imposed isolation.

"There is a direct correlation between Internet penetration, national development and productivity. Therefore, with the opening of the telecommunications highway into the corridor of our closest neighbour, there will be increased growth opportunities for Cuba," opined CWC's head of government relations and regulatory affairs and LIME Jamaica chairman, Chris Dehring. He hailed the normalisation of ties between the two countries as a "long-anticipated breakthrough in international relations which will create a boon in trade and economic advancement for Cuba and several industries."

For many years, the cost of telecommunications to Cuba has been prohibitively high. This has affected everything from telephone calls to data transfer and Internet connection. The US White House last Wednesday indicated that companies will be allowed to establish commercial telecom and Internet service. Cable and Wireless says they will be jumping on the opportunity, given the close proximity and possibilities for connectivity.

CWC, through LIME, is resting its optimism on the ALBA-1 undersea cable that connects Jamaica with Cuba. According to Dehring, "This development augurs well, especially for the ALBA-1 undersea cable network that connects Cuba with Jamaica and, consequently, the world. ALBA-1 has Internet connectivity and international wholesale capacity for operators to the US through Venezuela, and is a joint venture between the Cuban and Venezuelan governments."

CWC spent US$70 million on the ALBA-1. The fibre optic cable stretches 1,860 kilometres between Cuba, Venezuela and Jamaica. This undersea cable will take on greater significance for both Jamaica and Cuba in the coming years, as demand for international wholesale capacity grows between Cuba, Jamaica and ultimately the United States.