By Alejandro Martínez
Despite the first signs of activity from a massive fiber optic cable connecting Cuba and Venezuela three weeks ago, there appears to be little improvement in Internet access on the island, according to a report from Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez on the Committee to Protect Journalists' website.
According to Sánchez, the U.S. firm Renesys, which analyzes Internet traffic, reported that the Alba-1 cable had started to send and receive data. However, users have not reported any improvement in connectivity or the speed of their Internet connection.
Construction of the Alba-1 cable began in 2007. According to Reuters, the Cuban government promised that, when activated, the cable would offer connection speeds 3,000 times faster than what was then available on the island.
Despite completion of the project in 2011, Cuban Internet users continued connecting to the Internet via satellite providers. Some experts believe the cable has only benefitted government officials, reported the Miami Herald.
Sánchez cited the journalist Frank Abel García, who said, "I think there is no interest or political will on the part of the government for the people to have Internet access."
In 2011, the National Statistics Office reported that 2.6 million of the island's 11.2 inhabitants use the Internet, according to Reuters. However, it's possible that many of these users only have access to the Internet in schools or government offices.
According to Sánchez, Cuba's three percent connectivity rate is the lowest in Latin America. Only some hotels and cybercafés offer access, which is often slow and checkered with censored websites.
Visit CPJ's website to read Sánchez's full report.
Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.