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An undersea fiber-optic cable that was laid last year between Venezuela and Cuba is working, a Venezuelan government official said Thursday.

The cable was rolled out starting in Venezuela and reached eastern Cuba in February 2011. But 10 months after the system was supposed to have gone online, Cuba's government has not recently mentioned the cable, and the Internet on the island remains the slowest in the Western Hemisphere. The link had been expected to promptly improve the speed of the Internet in Cuba.

Jorge Arreaza, Venezuela's science and technology minister, said that "a few months ago we signed all the remaining protocols, all the necessary security measures with the Cuban government."

"It's absolutely operational. It will depend on the Cuban government what it uses it for. Of course that's their sovereign matter, but we know that the undersea cable is in full operation," Arreaza told reporters.

The project was carried out last year by the company Alcatel-Lucent SA of France for the state telecommunication companies of Venezuela and Cuba. The cable stretches about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) from Venezuela across the Caribbean Sea to Siboney in eastern Cuba. From Cuba, an extension of about 150 miles (240 kilometers) was also laid from Cuba to Jamaica.

Arreaza said officials are considering the possibility of another branch stretching to the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

He said Venezuela's telecommunications system benefits from the new link to Jamaica because it offers additional connections to other undersea cable systems running toward the United States and Europe.


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