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Cuba's internet is slow and expensive – but brings a welcome change

But at 8 o'clock on Thursday, officials with the state telecom operator for the first time to offer internet access…

But at 8 o’clock on Thursday, officials with the state telecom operator for the first time to offer internet access on their mobile phones, an important step towards softening Cuban’s technical isolation.

About 5.3 million cubes have mobile phones, a little less than half of the island’s population, according to figures published by the government.

Until now, Cubans could only receive and send emails to their phones using mobile networks through state accounts. Providing mobile services can finally help meet the measured demand for video chat, social media, and even e-commerce.

Only 60,000 Cubans have Internet access via a limited program that allows people to connect via DSL lines in their homes, according to state statistics. Many people are packing 1

200 places, parks and other public areas across the island equipped with wireless routers, starting in July 2015.

Access to public WiFi hotspots costs $ 1 an hour and people complain about slow connection speeds and no privacy. The new mobile service was greeted with cautious optimism by many Cubans, who for many years have been told by their government that they should receive 3G soon.

“I think it’s good, I’d like to use it to keep in touch with my daughters who live abroad but I do not know if I can afford it yet,” said Nestor Rodriguez, who said he is equivalent to a few dollars if the day selling fried pork tracks in Havana’s rolling colonial streets.

ETECSA, the Cuban governmental unit that maintains a monopoly on all telecommunications, said they would charge the equivalent of 10 cents a megabytes for the new service and released four plans that Cubans can buy . The cheapest plan costs about $ 7 for 600 megabytes of data, or more than a tenth of what a high-paying doctor earns in a month.

The average state worker’s monthly salary is about $ 30, according to state statistics, making the new 3G unaffordable for those who do not have relatives who send them remittances from abroad or work in the island’s small private sector.

Still said the Cuban government One that the new service showed a desire to modernize and open ever so little land with some of the most limited internet in the world.

“We continue to evolve in the informatization of society,” said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel on a tweet on the same day in the announcement.

<img alt = “Leonor Cuza Tamayo, 52, chatting with a sister In Miami, her son, Jose Luis Rodriguez, 33, shines over his head, in 2016. [19659013] But other Cubans were more skeptical about the opening, saying tests this year of the new 3G service caused the network to slip and stop.

“They’ve talked about this long time,” said Elmer, who runs a small cafeteria from a window from his home asking that his last name not be used. “You have to wait and see if it really works before you give them your money. “

For all their alleged advances in health and education, Cuban’s level of internet connection was among the lowest in the world.

Critics have long complained that Cuban officials want to keep technology – and the open flow of information – out of their m Edborg’s hands. The government blamed the US trade embargo on the Internet.

Cuba made the Internet more accessible as part of the agreement in December 2014 to begin normalizing relations with the United States after more than half a century of childbirth.


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