A Fibre Optic Cable Breakage Worsens Cuba’s Internet Connection

The poor quality of international communications from Cuba is a permanent source of complaints for users of the Cuban Telecoms Company Etecsa. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Natalia López Moya, Havana, 14 November 2023 – Along with all their other routine problems, Cubans suffered major difficulties in connecting to the internet on Tuesday, owing to a “break in an underground fibre optic cable”, according to a brief announcement by the Cuban Telecoms Company, Etecsa.

The breakdown “has had an effect on internet services in different ways”, the state monopoly stated, recognising that “as a result users could see difficulties in accessing the service and a slowness of operation”.

Without giving any details of the location of the affected cable nor of the cause of the failure, Etecsa sought to assure the public that their specialists were working to restore service “in the shortest possible time”.

Since the early hours of the morning, Cubans began reporting the telecoms breakdown on social media across the country. “You can hardly get on the internet and your phone is constantly losing data signal”, a young resident of the Cayo Hueso district of Havana told this paper.

Nevertheless, he thought that it was just down to Etecsa’s routine problems: “As always, the connection is terrible. I didn’t think it was any specific breakdown but just that they have congestion on the data antennae, which is what’s been happening anyway to us in this area recently”.

Many of the operations of electronic payments systems and of websites or mobile phone apps were paralized 

The poor quality of international communications from Cuba is a permanent source of complaints from users, which, according to official figures, number more than 7 million in the mobile phone service.

Many of the operations of electronic payment systems and of the websites that sell products on social media, digital portals, or mobile phone apps, were paralized on Tuesday because of the fault, 14ymedio was able to confirm.

In El Vedado, the family of Siro, a Habanero of 38, couldn’t order a cake for their mother’s birthday on the popular app Mandao because “there was no way of getting a data signal”. Eventually they bought one from a private cafeteria but couldn’t hide their frustration: “The point was to be at home and get the cake delivered, but with no internet, forget it”.

In October last year this paper revealed the paradoxical situation in which Etecsa found itself: being one of the few national concerns that generates huge income, but nevertheless is in financial difficulties.

“We are joining bits of cable together to try and solve the breakages”, said José Ángel, a worker for the company, which, he said was going through “its worst crisis since its creation”. This employee, who was working in the Revolution Square district, complained that “the managers carry on getting privileges but we at technician level have no resources to help us look after the customers”.

Every fifteen days, Etecsa launches a promotion of extra bonuses payed from abroad but most of this foreign currency is not invested in telecoms infrastructure. “Around 90% of what Etecsa raises leaves the company in a big consignment called “undefined”, explained another employee based in the accounts section. “With what’s left it’s very difficult to maintain a quality service because you can hardly make any large investments”.

Translated by Ricardo Recluso


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