Team Telecom Nixes Cuba Link


The Committee for the Assessment of Foreign Participation in the United States Telecommunications Services Sector, aka “Team Telecom” has recommended that the Federal Communications Commission deny a 2018 application by management of the ARCOS-1 Cable System to add a new landing station in Cojimar, Cuba

“The United States supports an open, interoperable, secure, and reliable internet around the world, including in Cuba. Unfortunately, the Cuban government does not share that view,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “As long as the Government of Cuba poses a counterintelligence threat to the United States, and partners with others who do the same, the risks to our critical infrastructure are simply too great.”

As submitted to the FCC, the ARCOS-1 Cable System application would have allowed for the only direct, commercial subsea cable connection between the United States and Cuba. This raised national security concerns, as the cable-landing system in Cuba would be owned and controlled by Cuba’s state-owned telecommunications monopoly, Empresa de Telecommunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETECSA). The Government of Cuba — which the United States recognizes as authoritarian and a foreign adversary of the United States — could access sensitive U.S. data traversing the new cable segment through its control of ETECSA.

There is an existing cable between Florida and the U.S. Guantanamo Bay Naval Base (the GTMO-1 cable system), and a cable from Guantanamo Bay to Puerto Rico (the GTMO-PR cable system). The Americas Region Caribbean Optical-Ring System (ARCOS-1) is a 8,700 km submarine cable system connecting 24 landing points in 15 countries, including the U.S., the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Curacao, Venezuela, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico.

ARCOS-1 USA and A.SurNet hold 96% of the voting and ownership interests in the ARCOS-1 cable system, with the remaining ownership held by 18 international carriers. A.SurNet owns and operates the ARCOS-1 cable landing station in North Miami Beach, Florida. ARCOS-1 USA and A.SurNet are owned by Liberty Latin America, spun off from Liberty Global in 2018.

Earlier this month Team Telecom indicated “no objection” to the leveraged buyout of television news producer Tegna by Caymans-registered Standard General, despite entreaties from the Communications Workers of America News Guild.


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