Cuba and Venezuela are implementing a project to install two pairs of submarine communication cables using fibre optic technology that will be running all the way from the La Guaira beach in Venezuela, passing through the beaches near the eastern Cuban province of Santiago de Cuba and the Fosa de Barlett (Barlett Pit) at a depth of 6,000 meters below sea level.
The implementation of this ground-breaking initiative arising from Cuba and Venezuela’s historical need of developing their own telecommunication infrastructure will demand advanced installation methods and complex engineering operations, where many strategic, geographical and political aspects will come into play.
Waldo Reboredo, the vice president of the Gran Caribe Cuba-Venezuela Telecommunications Company undertaking the cable installation, told Granma that the project is advancing rapidly and that everything is going according to plans so far.
"We have already completed seabed surveys from the area of Camurí near the La Guaira harbor in the Venezuelan state of Vargas to the Siboney beach in the Cuban province of Santiago de Cuba. We have also conducted marine research is areas near the northern coastline of Jamaica.
Equipped with state-of-the-art technology to carry out advanced oceanographic research, the ship Ridley Thomas undertook the ocean exploration efforts. The investigation allowed the determination of the location of nearby tectonic faults and unstable seafloor and established the cable installation route, the most suitable cable types to be used and the best ways to protect it.
"The oceanographic research showed where cables can be more vulnerable and require additional protective layers. As they will be passing through one of the world’s most unstable marine areas, marked by huge submarine depressions, we will be using a special protective coating with steel wires that will make the cables more resistant to intense ocean activity and currents.
"The extra layers will also provide protection against the potential attack of sea animals which, attracted by electromagnetic fields, have very often caused serious damage to undersea cable networking systems in many parts of the world.
"We have also concluded the building of optical terminals, power electronic devices and other submarine and peripheral equipment to be installed in coastal areas and in on-the-ground stations in Venezuela, Cuba and Jamaica.
"First we will test the cables on the ground to see if they are transmitting properly during the last two weeks of November. Then, we will wait until the hurricane season is over to begin installing on January 25, 2011, starting from Venezuela.
"We expect to begin works in Cuba by February 15; and a week after in Jamaica.
"As soon as we finish the installation, we will start getting ready to operate the cables by the beginning of the second half of 2011."
As he supervised ongoing construction works preparing the ground for the installation of the submarine cables in the province of Santiago de Cuba, the Cuban Vice President of the Councils of State and Ministers, Revolution Commander Ramiro Valdés Menéndez, inquired about vulnerability studies being implemented in order to devise more efficient strategies to protect the fibre-optic cables from the danger of anchors, fishing boats, and other potentially harmful coastal activity.
Ramiro Valdés said this revolutionary project would greatly enhance telecommunications in the Latin American continent, benefiting not only Cuba but many regions of the Caribbean and Central America. He noted that improving bandwidth offers a more economic alternative to satellite communications which are, for the most part, expensive and deficient.
The Cuban minister of communications and computing sciences said the initiative would also serve as a springboard to promote regional integration and social exchange.
With a length of 1,602 kilometers and a connection capacity of 640 gigabytes, the submarine cables will enable transmitting data, images and sound 3,000 times faster than at present; thus speeding up data communication traffic and internet services in the continent.
The cost of the project is estimated at over US $70 million and the majority of the cables will be laid beneath international waters, in keeping with regulations regarding foreign borders and respecting the sovereignty of the nations of the region. (Granma)