SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.S. military hopes to install a $40 million underwater fiber-optic cable that could improve communications at Guantanamo Bay, a military official said Thursday.
The goal is to bring the infrastructure of the naval base up to par with other government agencies, said Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a spokesman for the Guantanamo military commissions.
Currently, the base relies on a single satellite for its communications system.
"It feels like the sort of dial-up Internet that we had in the 90s," Breasseale said. "It's a very limited bandwidth."
He said the cable would run 800 miles (1,290 kilometers) from Guantanamo Bay to South Florida and could start operating within two years.
Cuban authorities have been notified about the project, and the survey ship USNS Zeus is expected to arrive at the naval base in upcoming weeks.
Currently, technicians have to constantly reroute bandwidths depending on the needs of the various organizations based in Guantanamo, Breasseale said.
"It massively degrades the systems when you have to put your work product on hold," he said. "This is really going to cure a lot of ills."
Breasseale said the cable project is meant to serve the naval station for years to come and is not an indication that the detention center, which currently holds 169 detainees, will remain open indefinitely.
"We have plans to close the detention facility," he said. "That remains our goal."
The fiber-optic cable project has been included in the fiscal 2013 budget and needs approval from Congress.