Miami Firm Plans First U.S.-Cuba Fiber Optic Cable

istock_000004000555xsmallIn a move that could have a major impact on the lives of Cubans, a small Miami-based firm is hoping to give the isolated island nation its first-ever fiber optic connection to the rest of the world. TeleCuba Communications Inc. said the U.S. government has approved its effort to link Key West with the Havana suburb Cojimar via a 110-mile cable by 2011, which could drastically lower international calling rates and make the Internet more accessible for Cubans.

Cuba — which is the only nation in the Western Hemisphere without a fiber optic link to the outside world — has yet to give final approval to land the cable, and the Cuban government would set calling rates and could restrict web access. But it’s tough to overstate how important fiber optic access could be. While Cuba currently uses slow, expensive satellite links, TeleCuba’s cable would support 8-10 terabits per second, enough for more than 160 million simultaneous phone calls. So while Cubans may still be stuck with antiquated American cars, they may soon have access to modern American broadband — and that could be very good news for the Cuban economy.