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The Associated Press October 12, 2010, 12:51PM ET

Undersea Venezuela-Cuba fiber optic cable delayed

An undersea cable from Venezuela to Cuba to improve Internet and telecommunications on the communist-run island won't be ready until July at the earliest and will cost more than initially thought, Cuban news media reported Tuesday.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma said the project will lay 3,125 miles (5,000 kilometers) of cable linking Cuba, Jamaica and Venezuela, and that its anticipated cost has risen from $63 million to $70 million.

The story cited Alberto Rodriguez, Cuba's vice minister of information and communications, as saying that the project won't be completed until July 2011 at the earliest. It did not say whether work has begun.

Venezuela's government has an agreement with the Paris-based company Alcatel-Lucent to produce and install the fiber optic line, but the project has been delayed repeatedly since it was first announced in 2007.

Cuba says the U.S. embargo blocks it from using telecommunication systems in nearby countries, and that it must rely on satellite service from Europe and other faraway locales, making Internet and phone service costly and unreliable.

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