Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Has the ALBA-1 undersea cable changed anything?

In January, I posted a note about a blog post by Renesys analyst Doug Madory showing that Cuba had begun testing the ALBA-1 undersea cable. Madory's data shows the round trip "ping" times for packets traveling between Cuba and four other cities.

The slow speed data points (A) are using the old satellite links.  The medium speed links (B) are asymmetric -- outbound via satellite and return through the cable.  The high speed links (C) imply two way cable traffic.

A number of people commented on Madory's post, some indicating that they had indeed noticed faster speed in accessing Cuban servers, but, consistent with the Renesys data, others did not.

Madory updated the data in March. As we see here, the majority, though not 100 percent, of Telefonica traffic is being carried over the cable.

Regardless, if Cuba lacks the political will and domestic infrastructure to connect users to the cable, it will have little practical effect.  The Cuban government has said the first applications of the cable would be those that benefit society.  It seems to me that university and medical connectivity would fill that bill and be low-hanging fruit.

It has been three months since Madory first detected traffic.  Has anyone noted any improvement in their service?


  1. Dear Larry,

    first of all thanks for your great blog.

    This topic is so much imporant for cuban people, please keep up your outstanding work.

    Regarding your post, I cannot confirm the intention displayed in the second graphic. I was in Cuba from 11th to 22th march on rountrip and NEVEr experienced fast (or atl east acceptable) Internet ( Not in Havana, Trinidad, Pinar del Rio or Varadero).

    So if Telefonica would be using the cable, why is it still as slow as the satellite connection? I know, an issue could be the "last mile", but I stayed also in big hotels like the nacional de cuba and Internet was still as slow as Satellite speed.

    Maybe the government put restrictions on the cable speed. But "selling" it to Jamaica with full access. Very strange situation.

    1. Daniel,

      Thanks for the kind words.

      The graph shows many blue (Telefonica) times under 400 MS, but also quite a few much higher. Evidently the hotels you visited were in poorly served regions -- last mile, middle mile and backbone. Perhaps fast connectivity is being reserved for government and business?

      Domestic infrastructure is limited by financial and political considerations. I would think that resort hotels would have priority, but evidently not.

      You mention the Jamaica link, which is now operational (

      Note that Telefonica cable traffic went way down when the link to Jamaica went online. Overall, it looks like less total cable traffic and capacity than before!


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