Cuban authorities open access to the mobile Internet

Remigio Civitarese
Luglio 20, 2018

The service, provided by local telco ETECSA, was first rolled out to journalists at state-run media.

All 5 million of its cellphone customers will have internet on their smartphone by the end of 2018, ETECSA said.

As per the ETECSA, the Cuban telecoms monopoly, certain consumers, including embassies and companies have also purchased mobile data plans since December, although it has not yet publicized the move. Internet was only accessible to the populace at tourist hotels in Cuba until 2013. Since then, the government has expanded coverage to cyber cafes and outdoor hotspots, with a limited extension into residences.

The reform has already undergone preparations by 33 lawmakers guided by former president Raul Castro, who ruled the Caribbean island from 2006 until being succeeded by Miguel Diaz-Canel April 2017. Moreover, the residents of Cuba could thus oppose the vulgar, pseudo-cultural, and banal content. Last month, ETECSA launched a free Cuba-only messaging application, Todus, while Cuba's own intranet with a handful of government-approved sites and email is much cheaper to access than the wider internet.

The aim of the Cuban government to connect 60% of phones and at least half of homes by 2020 was clear as it was revealed in a leaked document that contained Cuba's internet strategy back in 2015. ETECSA did not reply to a request for more details for this story.

Most mobile phone owners have smartphones, although Cuba is only now installing 3G technology, even as most of Latin America has moved onto 4G, with 5G in its final testing phase.

Cuba had hoped that a diplomatic opening to the United States, agreed on with President Barack Obama, would stimulate the island's struggling economy.

Perhaps, the biggest obstacle to achieving the country's goal of making mobile internet available to Cubans is price.

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