Published: Sun, December 09, 2018
Electronics | By Kelly Massey

Cuba On The Verge Of American Freedom: Phone Internet

Cuba On The Verge Of American Freedom: Phone Internet

Cuba will begin a roll out of fee-based internet access for mobile phones throughout the island on Thursday, a milestone as the Communist-run country softens its tough stance on individual freedoms.

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.

Cuba is one of the last countries on Earth to join the mobile internet.

In recent years, Cubans have been able to access Facebook and other popular Internet sites via their mobile phones - but it often involved a combination of a special access card sold by ETECSA, pay-as-you-go public Wi-Fi hot spots and phones that were sent from relatives overseas.

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Raul Castro in April, has championed greater connectivity, underscoring the potential for internet to boost the economy and enable Cuba to better defend its revolution online.

Smartphone users in Cuba will soon have access to a 3G network, state-run telecom firm ETECSA announced on Tuesday.

However, the cost of this provision is considerably high.

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"We increase spending on infrastructure according to our financial abilities in the coming months and also start installing 4G technology, which is already used worldwide", said Jose Luis Perdomo, Cuba's minister of communications, who also spoke on the program.

The cost will be out of reach for many Cubans as the average state wage is around $30 per month, and many people rely on remittances from relatives overseas or side gigs to get by.

Though about 11.2 of its citizens have mobile phones, only a few can afford the high charges for the internet services on their phones.

"After three tests of our broadband infrastructure, mobile internet connections will be available gradually to all Cuban cellphone clients starting on December 6", said Mayra Arevich, the ETECSA executive president, on a Cuban State TV program.

With many relatives living overseas, the internet facility will work out to be too costly. He opened a twitter account in October to much fanfare, and many government officials have followed his lead.

However, Cuba has blocked access to social websites from the US which is anti-communist in nature and on those which call for changes in Cuba.

North Korea, another authoritarian country which strictly controls internet access, only allows its citizens to browse a nationwide intranet full of pages vetted by the regime.

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