Sat, 28 Jan 2023

WASHINGTON D.C.: A U.S. government committee has urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny an application to connect Cuba to the U.S. through a new undersea cable handling internet, voice and data traffic.

According to the Justice Department-led panel, known as "Team Telecom," the proposal raised national security concerns because the cable-landing system in Cuba would be owned and controlled by Empresa de Telecommunicaciones de Cuba S.A., Cuba's state-owned telecommunications monopoly.

The U.S. government has been recently reviewing undersea cable connections, especially those involving China.

Forming the backbone of the internet, some 300 subsea cables carry 99 percent of the world's data traffic.

Team Telecom said Cuba "could access sensitive U.S. data traversing the new cable segment," and an FCC spokesman said the agency is reviewing the recommendations.

The existing ARCOS-1 submarine cable system, which connects the U.S. with 14 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, is planned to be expanded to a landing station in Cojimar, Cuba.

ARCOS-1 USA cited a 2019 State Department Cuba Internet Task Force that "recommended enabling the construction of new submarine cables to Cuba."

In a 2021 filing with the FCC, it also said that the cable would "increase the means through which Cubans on the island can communicate with the United States and the rest of the world."

While it supports the "Cuban people's access to an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet," the proposal poses "unacceptable risks to U.S. national security," Team Telecom said.

FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks has called for enhanced scrutiny covering undersea cables in 2020.

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