Broadband Internet service comes to some Cuban homes

Posted: 18-Feb-16 18:15

Private citizens in Cuba could soon join much of the rest of the developed world when it comes to direct access to broadband Internet service. Right now, a pilot program is underway to bring broadband to some private homes within a couple of Havana neighbourhoods. Previously, this was restricted to only diplomats and foreign companies, Cuban academics or senior executives.

Broadband Internet service comes to some Cuban homes

Steps are underway to bring Cuba from one of the least connected countries in the world to one where private citizens have access to broadband Internet service within their own homes. This marks a monumental step in the process of making the Internet more widespread across a country that has mostly limited it from all but diplomats and workers of foreign companies in the past.

Recently, though, Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) made the announcement of a pilot program, offering broadband service to average citizens. Under that program, broadband access will be launched in homes within two neighbourhoods in Havana. According to the telecommunications company, citizens will be able to order the service through Huawei. In addition, the program will also at some point allow restaurants, bars and cafes to sign up for fiber-optic service, though few details are being released as of yet, including when that part of the program will actually launch or how much it will cost for the businesses to take part.

Until now, some Cubans only had the ability to use dial-up connections at home and slow broadband at universities or at work. Mobile plans didn’t exist. Changes in policy began in late 2014 when Cuba and the United States opted to ease diplomatic relations between the two countries. Since then several moves have been made to broaden out Internet access across the country of Cuba. The first one was the installation of Wi-Fi-spots in several cities and the reduction of the costs from $6 CUC per hour to $2.

In turn, recently the Federal Communications Commission eased up on restrictions that previously prevented U.S. telecoms from operating in Cuba. The companies no longer need FCC approval to offer data and voice services within the island nation. As well, other American companies, such as Netflix, have also offered their services in Cuba.

In another move that reflects a recent easing of restrictions, in 2015 the Cuban government began allowing for public Wi-Fi hotspots across Havana. According to the state’s telecommunications company, an additional 30 hotspots will pop up over the course of 2016.

Still, though, there remains the relatively high price that may make Wi-Fi unattainable for many locals. The hotspots charge around $2 per hour for web access. The average Cuban makes a salary of about $25 per month. Despite this, steps forward are being made. This is positive news for foreign travellers, perhaps making it more comfortable to travel to the country in the near future with easier access to the Internet, including in the casa particulars where they stay.


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