In and Out of Cuba: Characterizing Cuba's Connectivity

Zachary S. Bischof, John P. Rula, Fabián E. Bustamante.
In Proc. of IMC, October 2015.

Department of Computer Science
Northwestern University
Evanston, IL 60208, USA


The goal of our work is to characterize the current state of Cuba's access to the wider Internet. This work is motivated by recent improvements in connectivity to the island and the growing commercial interest following the ease of restrictions on travel and trade with the US. In this paper, we profile Cuba’s networks, their connections to the rest of the world, and the routes of international traffic going to and from the island. Despite the addition of the ALBA-1 submarine cable, we find that round trip times to websites hosted off the island remain very high; pings to popular websites frequently took over 300 ms. We also find a high degree of path asymmetry in traffic to/from Cuba. Specifically, in our analysis we find that traffic going out of Cuba typically travels through the ALBA-1 cable, but, surprisingly, traffic on the reverse path often traverses high-latency satellite links, adding over 200 ms to round trip times. Last, we analyze queries to public DNS servers and SSL certificate requests to characterize the availability of network services in Cuba.