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Cuba expands internet in public places, not yet in homes

Bnamericas Published: Monday, May 25, 2015
Cuba expands internet in public places, not yet in homes

Cuba is slowly but surely bringing the internet to its citizens. State-owned telco Etecsa has opened new Wi-Fi hotspots in the central city of Trinidad and has more coming in nearby Sancti Spíritus.

Etecsa's director in Sancti Spíritus, Luis Rolando Sánchez, said that the city was already equipped and the hotspots should be up and running before the end of the month.

Internet hotspots have been operating in capital Havana since last year and are slowly reaching other cities. Etecsa has been focused on providing internet through Wi-Fi hotspots and community connection centers around the country. It currently has 154 such centers running, up from 118 in 2013, and it plans to open more this year.

Cubans at a Havana hotspot. (CREDIT: AFP)

However, internet will still only be available in public spots, with few connections in private homes due to the high cost of broadband plans.

The expansion is part of the country's plan to bring the internet to all Cubans, which according to Ernesto Rodríguez Hernández, general manager of computer science at the ministry of communications (Micom), will be effective by 2020.

"The country is getting ready and making strategic projections to meet those goals," he said.

Rodríguez Hernández said earlier this year that the internet offers great opportunities for development and to increase quality of life, but the government has been focused on other issues like education and innovation.

"[Technology] cannot be taken separately from the other matters the country is facing, because finance is key to developing infrastructure," he said.

Cuba is making an effort to take the country out of its internet doldrums: the island still has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in the world. The latest data from the ITU put Cuba's internet penetration at 25.7% as of 2013, according to a report from US-based NGO Freedom House.

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