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Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:52 PM

The fiber optic cable will not change Cuba's Internet overnight


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The fiber optic cable will not change Cuba's Internet overnight

La Alborada - Jan 22

The media is abuzz with the news that the fiber optic cable that runs from Venezuela under the Caribbean Sea to Cuba is now in use. The typical report indicates that it is being used for downloading only, not uploading data. Implicitly or explicitly, the reports make it appear that whether a different use is made depends only the government's disposition to turn a switch on or off. That is nowhere near reality.

Most Internet users in the US depend on DSL connections. These come into a home or apartment through little boxes, modems, which connect to existing phone lines or to wire cables that can provide telephone and TV service as well as Internet. Those wires and cables are made of copper. Connecting them to computing equipment is not much of a challenge.

Fiber optic cable is quite different: it's a very thin strand of material that transmits light, not electrons. Despite its small diameter, fiber optic cable carries much more data, much faster. However, it requires special amplification along the way, and special connectors. There are over 80 styles of connectors and about a dozen ways to install them, and none of these methods are as simple as traditional connect-the-wires procedures.

Fiber optic cable has been installed in the cities of developed countries through a maze of underground conduits. The cabling runs to nodes in neighborhoods or areas from which the signals are converted to copper wiring, which is then brought into homes. As installations develop, it has become possible also to run the fiber optic cable directly to the end user's home, which requires the use of a special receiver and finally a connection to a computer. That is not yet the standard.

DSL can handle Megabits per second; fiber optic cable can provide bandwidth in Gigabits. Most Internet users in Cuba, however, are not even at the level of DSL. They use the old (by US standards) dial-up 59k (kilobits) modems.

"Turning on" the fiber optic cable along the length of the island, if it is already laid out this way, does absolutely nothing for Internet users in Cuba unless the cable can be first distributed at least to nodes established throughout each city, and then connected by copper to existing equipment in particular homes. An alternative is to rig wi-fi broadcasting equipment throughout the country, but then all computers would have to be wi-fi ready. The Isle of Youth represents a different challenge, as it would need yet another underwater cable to connect it to the main island.

How expensive would these options be? Is the state to subsidize the costs? How realistic is the prospect of importing the equipment needed when so much of the hardware and software involved is likely to be prohibited to Cuba by the blockade?

It is incorrect, even deceitful, to promote the idea that Cuba is now able to simply decide to allow computer users to use the fiber optic signal, as if it were a matter of providing an access code. Widespread access to the fiber optic signal will require widespread upgrading of the existing public conduits and end-user equipment.

At the same time, Cuba still faces the rebuilding of houses affected by hurricanes, and a shortage of living units overall. New economic measures are intended to raise production and eventually incomes, thus facilitating the purchase of the needed upgrades, but, in the meantime, Internet on fiber optic cable is not a real option for all users.

The transition to higher speeds and broader bandwidth will continue, of course, but it won't be instantaneous. The fiber optic signal may well be directed first to hospitals, schools, tourist facilities, and similar public institutions.

None of this is likely to be explained in mass media reports concerning the fiber optic cable now connected to Cuba.

14 replies, 1580 views

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Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply The fiber optic cable will not change Cuba's Internet overnight (Original post)
flamingdem Jan 2013 OP
dipsydoodle Jan 2013 #1
physioex Jan 2013 #2
Mika Jan 2013 #4
physioex Jan 2013 #5
Mika Jan 2013 #6
physioex Jan 2013 #7
Mika Jan 2013 #11
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 #12
naaman fletcher Jan 2013 #10
joshcryer Jan 2013 #9
Judi Lynn Jan 2013 #3
joshcryer Jan 2013 #8
Mika Jan 2013 #13
joshcryer Jan 2013 #14

Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 02:57 PM

1. I'd say rebuilding Santiago de Cuba and other towns

should be a higher priority.

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Response to dipsydoodle (Reply #1)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:06 PM

2. Not that I disagree....

But bringing communications and information accelerates change on a societal level.

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Response to physioex (Reply #2)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:19 PM

4. Accelerating change to what?

We've seen the so-called "orange" (and other color-named) "liberation" movements/revolutions, brought on and organized by/on Twitter and Facebook (with a fair amount of US DoS help). Not exactly with good results (except for privatization corporatists, oil companies, arms manufacturers, etc).

Cuba needs access to credit and markets, first and foremost.

As it is now, due to the lack of localized bandwidth, Cuba's internet is prioritized for gov't, medical, and educational use, as well as several prioritized infranet systems.





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Response to Mika (Reply #4)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:26 PM

5. I don't know what to tell you.....

When Al Jazeera was created, it was new source of information that was never available in the middle east. Heck I even watch Al Jazeera for their documentaries. With advent of the internets, sites like DU are truly revolutionary because this media does not work for profit and cannot be controlled by a group of individuals.

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Response to physioex (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:39 PM

6. Not for profit??? Ha!



FYI, Cubans are not cut-off from information. I've hung out w/Cuban cane cutters who know more global news than most Americans. Cubans are a very well informed populace.

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Response to Mika (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 04:45 PM

7. Credit markets, WTF?

I've been to third world countries that have had access to so called "credit markets", and all they do is give out loans that are stolen by corrupt government officials and pretty much none of it helps the common man. Seriously, you can look at that picture and see garbage, I look at the picture and see individuals that need to organize.

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Response to physioex (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 08:00 PM

11. The picture that Dipsydoodle posted was 1 day after Hurricane Sandy

Jeezuz. Man. Get real. Cubans marshal their scarce resources more efficiently than just about every other nation.




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Response to physioex (Reply #7)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 09:12 PM

12. Don't embarass yourself, please. Geez. n/t

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Response to Mika (Reply #6)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 07:26 PM

10. OK,

 

but why deny them access to more information?

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Response to physioex (Reply #5)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 07:19 PM

9. Yep, Operation Cyber-Mambi. The Cuban government wanted workers to blog.

The Cuban bloggers laughed about it because they blog because they want to share their ideas, not because they're instructed to blog in their spare time by the specter of the state.

Despite all that, I can’t but feel a satisfaction bordering on vanity when I think of this official attempt to “counteract” the blogger impulse. And I can’t help but feel, also, pride in the name of everyone who ever put a finger on a key with the suicidal intention of showing the truth.

“Operation Cyber-Mambi,” the opening of official blogs, the vigilance of our leaders over cyberspace, confirms in the most undeniable way the triumph of the few — but every day more — Cubans who have chosen the Internet as a means of personal expression.

As an epilogue to this Wonderland reality, and as evidence of the permanent sarcasm towards which a society lacking freedom of expression gravitates, I will return to the unusual request of that friend, another journalist, who from time to time must update a blog about which he feels nothing: “Throw me a rope, Ernesto, and give me some ideas for what I can write about in my blog. And maybe you can review some of the articles I’m going to publish. Although of course implicit in them will be an attack on your blog… but you can’t refuse me, brother, I have to do it for work.”

And of course, seduced by the charm of the absurd, in solidarity with his fears, I will never say no.


http://pequenohermanoenglish.wordpress.com/2010/11/12/operation-blogger-algorithm-for-a-disaster/

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Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 03:14 PM

3. What a useful article. Makes comlete sense, clearly.

Last sentence couldn't be more correct:

None of this is likely to be explained in mass media reports concerning the fiber optic cable now connected to Cuba.

Very happy to file this thread away for future use.

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Response to flamingdem (Original post)

Tue Jan 22, 2013, 07:14 PM

8. Except, according to latest reports, they opened it up in a third mode.

And speeds in Havana have improved.

Overnight.

For the next week, however, nothing changed. People on the ground in Havana reported no changes in Internet performance. When we wrote our blog on Sunday, it wasn't clear whether this curious one-way connectivity was intentional, or the result of misconfiguration.

Today, that all changed. At exactly 14:01 UTC Tuesday (09:01 local time), we saw yet another mode emerge in the latency diagrams. In this plot, you can see the original pure-satellite mode (A), the new asymmetric satellite mode (B), and a third, lower mode (C) that excludes the possibility of geosynchronous satellite service altogether. At 180-220ms, these paths suggest a pure terrestrial solution, based on subsea and overland cables — the traditional Internet that nearly everyone else on earth enjoys. Almost immediately, we started getting reports from Havana that delays for Internet traffic were dropping perceptibly, as the new routing policy kicked in.

What happened here? We speculate that Cuban network operators changed their routing policy to make the ALBA-1 cable the default path for all outbound traffic from certain Cuban networks. That would align with what we see in the data: some satellite providers, like Intelsat, move from mode A to faster mode B (becoming asymmetric: cable outbound, satellite inbound), while some prefixes move from mode B to still faster mode C (becoming symmetric terrestrial: cable outbound, cable inbound).


http://www.renesys.com/blog/2013/01/cuban-fiber-completo.shtml

Many Cubans have access to a computer (note: access, not ownership necesssarily).

Many Cubans have wifi already connected (for personal LANs to share files and play games; they're not currently connected, but once you have a wifi signal you can connect!):



The number of Cubans linked to the country's state-controlled intranet jumped more than 40 percent in 2011 compared to the previous year and mobile phone use rose 30 percent, the government reported, even as Cuba's population remained largely cut off from unfettered access to the Internet.


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/06/15/net-us-cuba-telecommunications-idUSBRE85D14H20120615

Connect the intranet to the internet and you're good to go. This often doesn't even require new hardware. It's a routing procedure.

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Response to joshcryer (Reply #8)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 07:42 PM

13. I wish Billy Burnett were here. He has worked on Cuba's infranet.

I remember discussing this topic at length w/him. It's not simply a matter of plugging-in a few ethernet plugs.

Billy? Are you checking DU anymore?

Anyone seen him posting to DU recently?





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Response to Mika (Reply #13)

Wed Jan 23, 2013, 08:51 PM

14. If not it must be a really archaic system.

PPP or something like that. It should still use IP and DHCP as a base since the software already exists for that and Cuba does use open source. Both are pluggable to the internet at large, though reliability might be an issue if it's PPP over crappy serial connections.

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