Cuba to allow citizens full internet access on mobile phones from Thursday

Donna Miller
December 7, 2018

With a population of more than 11.1 million people, Cuba now has 5.3 million mobile lines and 1.3 million landlines, according to the phone monopoly ETECSA, or the Telecommunications Company of Cuba S.A.

Before this foreign travelers could roam through their home networks but most Cubans could only access state-operated email accounts on their mobile phones.

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.

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

Montiel said he will not be able to afford a mobile phone with 3G technology on his wage of less than $20 a month as a salesman in a state company. "But for some, like me, it's still a remote one".

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. The new mobile service was greeted with cautious optimism by many Cubans who have been told for years by their government that they would have 3G soon.

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TRANSLATION: Today, the Ministry of Communications will announce and explain mobile internet service n Mesa Redonda.

Still, the Cuban government said the new service showed a desire to modernize and open ever so slightly a country with some of the most restricted internet in the world. We continue to advance in the digitisation of society.

Regarding the internet, one article proposes the "democratisation of cyberspace", while another condemns the use of the internet for so-called "subversion".

The internet is mostly uncensored in Cuba, although the government blocks a small number of sites like the US -funded Radio and Television Marti networks and others that advocate for systematic change on the island.

But other Cubans were more skeptical of the opening, saying tests this year of the new 3G service caused the network to grind to a halt and crash.

ETECSA Vice President Tania Velázquez said the company would roll out the service over several days in a bid to avoid network congestion. The government permitted home internet usage in 2017, when it had also introduced cybercafes and outdoor WiFi hotspots. Officials said it will be cheaper to access state-run websites and applications, Reuters reported.

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