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The Internet Censorship Networking IT

Cuba's Internet Routing Is Messed Up 64

Internet access in Cuba has gotten far better in the last year, thanks in large part to thawing relations between Cuba's government and the U.S. In the case of a censorship-heavy, technology-impaired regime, though, "better" doesn't necessarily mean good. Northwestern engineering professor Fabián E. Bustamante and graduate student Zachary Bischof decided to quantify the performance of Cuban internet connections, and found them "perhaps even worse than they expected," with regards to routing in particular. Reader TheSync writes with this excerpt: During their study, Bustamante and Bischof found that when a person in Havana searched for a topic on Google, for example, the request traveled through the marine cable to Venezuela, then through another marine cable to the United States, and finally landed at a Google server in Dallas, Texas. When the search results traveled back, it went to Miami, Florida, up to the satellite, and then back to Cuba. While the information out of Cuba took 60-70 milliseconds, it took a whopping 270 milliseconds to travel back.
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Cuba's Internet Routing Is Messed Up

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  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @09:17PM (#50836553) Homepage Journal

    It puts the "up" in "messed up".

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2015 @09:39PM (#50836617)

      This sounds more like a bgp configuration problem on a US based border router.

      Not *that* hard to troubleshoot, just traceroute (TCP trace if some are configured to ignore pings) and look at the relevant bgp configs of the routers along the way to see who is pointing to the wrong autonomous system. A lot of times you don't even need to ask, as they usually have a looking glass configured for this reason.

      • by jafo ( 11982 ) on Saturday October 31, 2015 @12:08PM (#50838085) Homepage

        Probably not a "problem", more likely it is a "decision". BGP routing isn't really about finding the fastest or best route, though InterNAP has some special sauce they can add via an appliance to help with that. It is about finding the "shortest" in terms of number of ASNs traversed, often weighted by company policy about what is cheapest. A satellite link directly to Cuba is probably fewer ASN hops than a cable to Venezuela and another cable to Cuba, so BGP picks that as best. The company pushing the traffic out the satellite either don't know to prefer the other path, have congestion on that link (just because it comes in that way doesn't mean it is going out the same link return, and there could be asymmetric loading), or it is more expensive to pass it to that provider. And it could be that using the exact same path to return traffic reduces latency, but increases loss due to overloaded links, so the satellite may provide a way better experience even if it is slower.

        BGP routing can be tricky.

    • by JoeMerchant ( 803320 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @10:39PM (#50836741)

      So, in 1990 when I accessed "the Internet" from the University of Miami main campus, the request went from main campus to the Marine school, from there to a satellite, back down somewhere in Colorado, and then started following a somewhat normal routing. Of course, if I was talking to FIU across town, that meant about 7 land hops from Colorado back to Miami...

      Sounds like Cuba's internet is better than U of Miami's was 25 years ago...

    • by KGIII ( 973947 )

      I don't know a whole hell of a lot but I'm a fairly quick study and I know quite a bit already, maybe it would be fun to go there and volunteer to do some help? A kind of Cuba IT Group or something? My Google-fu is either weak or there's no such group of volunteers. I'd think that it'd be kind of fun. Maybe I can meet Raul and braid Fidel's beard while I'm there?

      Then again, maybe I'd better not 'help.'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This happens with me on Verizon as well. Traffic between two sites in the same city (Stockholm) goes down to Germany (and routes around a few cities) before it gets back to Stockholm again. Just because Verizon refuses to peer directly with some ISPs.

  • Censorship? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2015 @09:34PM (#50836609)

    Why the censorship tag if the story is neither about American nor Cuban censorship? Have they verified the delay can be blamed on the NSA?

    • If anything imperfect happens, it is obviously the result of nefarious government interference.

      So sayeth the hivemind.

  • Things are honestly no better here. Living just outside of Seattle, WA, doing a trace route to Amazon's anycast DNS servers routes through some really bullshit routes, depending on which DNS server I query.

    Seattle > Chicago > New York > London > Some random other hops in Europe > AWS
    Seattle > San Jose > Los Angeles > Japan > Some random other hops in South East Asia > AWS

    Never mind that Seattle is Amazon's headquarters, and they have one of their primary facilities just to the

  • Buggering up the routing of most of the traffic from China and a few other places to the rest of the world might be a good idea ...
    • by Maow ( 620678 )

      Buggering up the routing of most of the traffic from China and a few other places to the rest of the world might be a good idea ...

      Seems like the traffic out of Cuba is indirect, but the traffic back in is truly messed up.

      And that seems to be entirely on the American side.

      Not that I disagree with what you said, it's just that that's not what is happening here.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2015 @11:10PM (#50836807)

    From the description Cuba out is pretty good. It is the return trip that goes via satellite. So it is not Cuba's routing that is messed up, but rather the rest of the worlds routing to Cuba which is messed up.

    Going via Venezuela might be the biggest cable they have. I am pretty sure the is no Havana, Miami direct cable.

    • Or, to clarify what "censorship" is at play here, the reason behind the download bottleneck here is US government siege/sanctions policy vs. Cuba preventing construction of Florida-Cuba cable. And apparently an unwillingness of US networks/ Google to peer with and route thru Venezuelan networks. All in all, the easiest most direct improvements to the situation are not in Cuban hands here, it would seem.
  • They had to go fucking with hosts files, now they done went hog wild copying APK hosts files into all routing tables and have fuxx0rd da t00bz!

    Silly Cubans, APK is not for the weak :-P

  • It's improvised!
  • Most likely whoever runs the border router(s) in question just needs to AS path prepend on the peering session with the satellite provider to make it look worse.

  • Congestion.

    Im sure you americans don't understand this, but even in other first world countries, bandwidth being saturated in one direction like this gets common in peak times, and when ISPs fail to keep up with growing demand it can become almost permanent.

    Whilst all your American bandwidth and internal routing costs pretty much nothing via sharing agreements, the rest of the world pays a premium to access it, so the lines into Cuba are under heavy load due to little content being hosted there compared to

  • This study was done last spring, when significant amounts of Cuban international traffic were routed over satellite, but in July nearly all international traffic moved to the undersea cable, significantly improving performance. Furthermore, the study used the only RIPE Atlas probe in Cuba, so may not have been representative of the entire island at that time. For details on the transition in July and the situation today, see []

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