Undersea cable connects Jamaica to Cuba
Landing marks first leg of telecommunications plan
Carl Gilchrist, Gleaner Writer
OCHO RIOS, St Ann:
JAMAICA ACHIEVED another milestone in its telecommunications industry with the landing in St Ann on Monday of a 240-km undersea fibre-optic cable between the island and Cuba.
The occasion, which took place at Golden Sands in Ocho Rios, was part of a joint agreement between Jamaica, Cuba and Venezuela, with Lime serving as landing partner on the Cuba-Jamaica leg of a plan to link Cuba and Venezuela.
The first leg of the connection, a 1500 km cable from Venezuela to Cuba, was concluded last week. Because of an embargo, it marks the first time in decades that an international telecoms cable was being connected to Cuba.
Installation of the cable should be completed by June this year. The cable will provide direct connectivity between Venezuela, Cuba and Jamaica for voice and data traffic.
Under the agreement signed late last year between LIME and its parent company, Cable and Wireless, and Telecommunicaciones Gran Caribe - which is a joint venture between Cuba (Transbit SA) and Venezuela (Telecom Venezuela) - Lime will carry voice and data traffic from Cuba to Europe, an arrangement which means significant income for Jamaica.
The ultra-high bandwidth infrastructure will provide data download at a speed of 3,000 times faster than the satellite technology which Cuba currently uses, said a release from LIME. The upgraded facilities are also expected to result in lower cost for international calls into and out of Cuba.
Boosting all sectors
Apart from developing communications in the Caribbean, the project is expected to boost other sectors, including business, tourism, education and finance.
Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, who represented Prime Minister Bruce Golding, said the project means increased job opportunities and will facilitate the sharing of information, but cautioned about the approach to the future.
"While we recognised this shared path, it is our approach to the future that will determine the long-term prosperity and development of our country," the senator said.
Cuban ambassador Yuri Gala Lopez said the undersea cable from Venezuela reached Cuba just a few days ago, on the south coast at the eastern end of the island. He said the arrival of the cable to Jamaica renews the bonds between the people of both countries.
Venezuelan minister of science and technology, Ricardo Mendez, speaking through an interpreter, underlined the importance of the occasion by recounting the day, October 6, 1815, when Simon Bolivar landed on Jamaican shores.
He said the venture would have benefits for the countries involved, inasmuch the same way the Petro Caribe initiative is benefiting Caribbean countries.
"Venezuela is completely committed to offer all the support because of its geographical position, to benefit the entire area of the Caribbean," Mendez said.
Meanwhile, former ministers Phillip Paulwell and Anthony Hylton, who, along with Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller, were present, said the occasion was a culmination of efforts started years ago.