Cuba to begin full internet access for mobiles

Cuba to begin full internet access for mobiles

Phones have emerged as a key method of accessing the Internet in Cuba.

The nation finally authorized home internet use in 2017 in addition to hundreds of public Wi-Fi connection points in locales around the country.

That's how it's been for the people of Cuba for more than half a century, even in the last 20 years when the internet began connecting folks from nearly every remote corner of the planet. After all, it was only 10 years ago that the Castro government lifted its ban that prohibited regular citizens from buying computers, and Internet access in private homes was rare before 2016.

While many Cubans are priced out, the service marks a sign of progress for a government that had long restricted internet access for its citizens.

Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in internet access, with a combination of lack of cash, the long-running U.S. trade embargo and concerns about the flow of information being to blame.

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Andujar said he will use the service to check email and check some information, but he will continue to use Wi-Fi for family conversations by video and other downloads because the prices for the new service are high for Cubans. The cheapest plan costs about $7 for 600 megabytes of data, or more than one-tenth of what a highly paid doctor earns in a month.

The cost of access poses a steep barrier in a country where almost 60 percent of the population lives on $100 or less per month, as a 2016 Cuban consumer survey found. ETECSA also routes some traffic through a private satellite. Only a few sites are blocked, while Cubans will still have access to communications applications to speak to friends and family overseas. Government officials and foreign businesspeople could use their mobiles anywhere to access the 3G network in recent years, though not always reliably.

In 2015, President Obama allowed US businesses to invest in Cuba's telecom sector.

The internet is mostly uncensored in Cuba, although the government blocks a small number of sites like the USA -funded Radio and Television Marti networks and others that advocate for systematic change on the island. Because of the size of the service rollout, Cuba's telecom company will send those notifications over the course of three days.

In his first tweet, Gonzalez said he wanted to "follow and support" Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel and "never let down" the Cuban people. As it told its customers about the new Internet access, ETECSA also warned them that in the first days of operation, "incidents could be experienced" that will disrupt service.

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