Cuba lowers Internet rates to one dollar per hour

Posted: 11-Nov-17 06:56

ETECSA, Cuba’s main telecommunications provider makes Internet more accessible to the Cuban population by lowering current rate to one dollar per hour. After beginning to extend the service through Wi-Fi zones in 2015, the company keeps working on improving and expanding Internet access throughout the island.

Cuba lowers Internet rates to one dollar per hour

Once off-bounds for the most part of the population, Internet access has improved considerably in Cuba during the past few years and promises to keep expanding soon thanks to recent initiatives. Cuba’s Telecommunications Enterprise (ETECSA) announced on 30th October it would lower its current Internet rate to 1 CUC per hour (Cuban convertible pesos, a currency which is equivalent to the US dollar). The new rate was established this Monday 6th November and will allow a larger range of locals to access the service.

ETECSA’s previous rate was 1.50 CUC for an hour of Internet access. The government-run company had established this price in September 2016, after beginning to extend the service through the creation of Wi-Fi zones within the capital and several other Cuban provinces. According to the note published on ETECSA’s website, in addition to the price reduction, the company announced it will increase the maximum storage capacity of Nauta accounts’ mail inbox from 50 to 100 megabytes.

At present, locals can access the Internet through computer laboratories and Wi-Fi zones as well as through “Nauta Hogar”, a recent initiative that has begun to take the web to Cuban homes. Though it is still fairly reduced, ETECSA has begun installing this network service in some households after running a pilot trial in Havana. In September the company had announced its intention of bringing Internet connection to as many homes as possible by the end of 2017.

Despite the efforts, current rates for this service are still considerably expensive when compared to the average salary of Cuban workers, which hovers around 28 dollars a month. Internet connection from the privacy of home was not a possibility until very recently. Only some professionals like doctors, lawyers, journalists or high officials counted with this service within their household.

Extending Internet use to the majority of the Cuban population remains a challenge ETECSA must face to satisfy the demands of the people. With the expansion of Internet access, primarily through Wi-Fi zones, Cuba has registered over 4.5 million users in 2016, which translates to 403 users for every 1,000 residents. The island currently possesses 1.152.9000 computers of which only 628.700 count with Internet access. In 2015, ETECSA counted 996.003 residential telephone landlines for a population of 11.4 million people, according to Cuba’s National Statistics Office (ONEI).  

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