If you’ve ever been to Cuba you might know that going online can be a real headache. You can only get internet access at hotel lobbies, universities, cybercafés or government approved Wi-Fi spots, which are usually crowded by locals, you need to buy a Wi-Fi card at $2 that’s good for every hour. This gradual opening is affecting citizens’ access to global information online.
Things are starting to change since the state telecom company, announced that they are gradually starting to sell home internet service, with 358 clients so far.
State-provided connections cost 15 – 105 CUC (‘currency equivalent to dollars’) to subscribe to a package of 30 hours per month with a speed that can range from 128 kilobytes to 2 megabytes. If the client exceeds this package, he will be paying an additional 1.5 CUC for every extra hour.
These rates are significantly expensive for Cubans taking into account that 105 CUC represents one-fourth of an average monthly salary.
Cuba’s internet planning started as a two month pilot program in La Habana Vieja, which provided free internet access to 858 homes. Now, ETECSA’s prospect is to expand the network bit by bit to other country regions.
So far, of 358 users, more than half subscribed to the slowest connection of 128 kilobytes and only 15 homes in all the country have access to the fastest connection- 2 megabytes- which is considerably slow considering international standards.
Until now, home internet connections were forbidden in Cuba. Only some professionals, such as journalists, medics and professors, were allowed to have a home network with government authorization.
This program is a game changer for Cubans, encouraging citizens to start taking an active part in the World Wide Web. For now, they will struggle with technological challenges, since major apps and sites require a faster broadband than the most popular and affordable connection of 128 kb, an anachronism for most parts of the world.