The US government has called for the Federal Communications Commission to throw out an application to deliver connectivity to Cuba through a subsea cable, stating concerns over national security.
A Justice Department panel known as “Team Telecom” said the new subsea cable landing station would be owned and controlled by Cuban state-owned operator Empresa de Telecommunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA).
Through the operator, the panel claimed the Cuban government “could access sensitive US data traversing the new cable segment." An FCC spokesperson told Reuters the agency is reviewing the recommendation from the panel.
The cable under discussion is the ARCOS-1 system which connects the US to a ring of 14 nations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Proposed plans detailed the desire to expand to a landing station in Cojimar, Cuba.
ARCOS-1 USA, the cable operator, said in a 2021 filing to the FCC 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," reported Reuters.
Team Telecom said it supports the Cuban desire for connectivity but the cable would bring "unacceptable risks to U.S. national security."
Mobile internet went live in Cuba for the first time in 2018 as president Miguel Diaz-Canel said connectivity would be a great tool to develop the Cuban economy. Ownership of a mobile phone was made legal in 2008 by president Raul Castro, brother of Fidel Castro.