ShareThis Page
Technology

Cuba to begin full internet access for mobile phones

| Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, 12:45 p.m.
FILE - In this July 1, 2015 file photo, youths use a password protected wifi network coming from a five star hotel to surf the Internet on their smart phones in downtown Havana, Cuba. Cuba's government announced on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 that its citizens will be offered full internet access on mobile phones starting Thursday, Dec. 6, becoming one of the last nations to do so. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)
FILE - In this July 1, 2015 file photo, youths use a password protected wifi network coming from a five star hotel to surf the Internet on their smart phones in downtown Havana, Cuba. Cuba's government announced on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 that its citizens will be offered full internet access on mobile phones starting Thursday, Dec. 6, becoming one of the last nations to do so. (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan, File)

HAVANA — Cuba announced Tuesday night that its citizens will be offered full internet access for mobile phones beginning this week, becoming one of the last nations to offer such service.

Mayra Arevich, president of the Cuban state telecom monopoly ETECSA, went on national television to say Cubans can begin contracting 3G service for the first time Thursday.

Until now, Cubans have had access only to state-run email accounts on their phones.

The Cuban government has been building a 3G network in cities across the island and some tourists, Cuban government officials and foreign businesspeople have had access to it for several years.

The communist-governed island has one of the world’s lowest rates of internet use but that has been expanding rapidly since Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared detente in 2014. Expansion has not slowed with President Donald Trump’s partial rollback of relations.

Cuba authorized home internet in 2017 and hundreds of public Wi-Fi connection points have opened in parks and plazas around the country.

The new service will cost about 10 cents per megabyte, with packages ranging from 600 megabytes for about $7 to four gigabytes for about $30.

Those prices are roughly in line with global standards but still out of reach for many Cubans who subsist on state salaries of about $30 a month.

Cuba ran a fiber-optic connection to Venezuela in 2012, allowing the island to shift from slow and costly satellite links. It then began the slow process of allowing citizens to get online.

The government opened state-run internet cafes in 2013, joined by Wi-Fi sites two years later. The number of sites has grown to more than 800.

The Cuban internet is mostly uncensored but the government blocks a small number of sites like the U.S.-funded Radio and Television Marti networks and others that advocate for systematic change on the island.

ETECSA vice president Tania Velázquez said the new service would come online in stages from Thursday through Saturday to avoid the congestion that struck the mobile network during a series of heavily criticized tests this year.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me