The sustained increase in active mobile telephone lines in the country and the growing number of users connected to Internet through them, they have saturated the international outlet capacities of the telecommunications in Cuba during certain hours, as recognized this Tuesday by authorities in the sector.
“The capacities that we had in (the submarine cable) ALBA-1 are saturated, so that in those times of high concurrency the demand is not satisfied”, exposed to cubadebate Tania Velázquez Rodríguez, executive president of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba SA (Etecsa).
This is, apparently, the main reason behind the numerous complaints from users about repeated connectivity problems in the country.
📢 Executive President of @ETECSA_Cuba, @taniavel76exchanges with the national press about the state of the services at the end of 2022 and the actions that are undertaken to ensure their best performance. pic.twitter.com/XrVATST2kQ
— ETECSA (@ETECSA_Cuba) January 31, 2023
In 2022, the number of users connected to the Internet via cell phones grew by more than one million, reaching 6.7 million customers.
This increase is reflected in the volume of traffic, which increased by 63% in the same period: from 189 thousand terabytes in 2021 to 309 thousand in the past year.
At the end of 2022 there were 274,000 connected homes, with a growth of 22,000 services compared to the previous year.
Arimaus, in April
The ETECSA board of directors recognized that this growth has not been accompanied by the necessary volume of investment in infrastructure to support it.
“This generates a high degree of competition in the access network, as it cannot grow with a sufficient level of base stations due to economic difficulties in acquiring new technologies and equipment,” he explained.
Etecsa estimates that between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm, peak service time, more than two million concurrent users (users who use system resources at the same time) make use of the network, therefore It is in this segment that the greatest difficulties are reported to navigate.
Velázquez Rodríguez recognized that there are “bottlenecks” in the international outlet and considered that they must be solved by enabling new capacities through the new Arimao international submarine cable.
“We hope to get it up and running in April,” he added.
Blackouts and Internet browsing
The frequent cuts in the supply of electricity in recent months deteriorate the quality of navigation and in many cases cancel it due to lack of energy backup, explained Velázquez Rodríguez.
Although all base stations come with batteries, only 25% of the little more than 5,000 installed in the country currently have backup to face this contingency.
“Although the nodes have batteries, they are not designed for such intensive use. We have had cases in which the current has gone and the radio base is turned off, ”he explained.
To alleviate the situation, he said that steps have been taken to acquire these energy storage devices, but their high cost (30 thousand dollars per unit) has prevented it.
The president of ETECSA also referred to other necessary investments and work in other layers of the network that allow the smooth transit of the large mass of data that customers currently demand.
In 2021 the average demand per user was 5.65 gigabytes and scaled to 7.23 in 2022.
Better use of infrastructure
Velázquez Rodríguez mentioned some actions that have been undertaken in the operational area that would allow better conditions for navigation, making better use of the installed infrastructure.
“In those radio bases with this possibility, frequencies such as 2,100 MHz are being enabled in Havana and Matanzas. The process will be extended to the rest of the country, taking into account the technical conditions. This provides additional capacity for people to connect. Let’s remember that today 4G navigation is enabled in the 1,800 MHz band,” the directive explained.
The strategy designed includes the authorization of the 700 MHz band in provinces where the process of partial transition to digital television is taking place, such as Pinar del Río and Artemisa, and the 900 MHz band for 4G navigation, “which will significantly influence the quality of service”.
Consumption peaks with recharges
The highest authority of ETECSA explained that the high consumption of data coincides with the usual promotions promoted by the company, such as quintupling the available balance.
He explained that they are necessary to obtain the fresh currencies that allow the replenishment destined to expand the infrastructure.
“It is an incentive to stimulate recharges from abroad, since since the departure of the combined packages there has been a shift towards the consumption of national packages with payments in CUP and income from abroad has decreased,” he said.
“We are very satisfied to have offers in CUP that please the majority of our customers, but it is also important to offer alternatives to capture the currencies that allow us to sustain the service and do it with quality,” he added.