Internet in Cuba, another Victim of the US Blockade

By Elio Delgado Legon

Cuba’s telecommunications company has recently announced that new mobile data package offers will be implemented, promoting 4G technology. Photo: juventudrebelde.cu

HAVANA TIMES – For many years, enemies of the Cuban Revolution (including the US government) have been shouting from the rooftops that Cuba didn’t have the Internet because the Cuban government was afraid ideas would freely circulate and because there was no freedom of speech on the island. However, reality was quite different.

Flaunting their double standards, they said they defended the Cuban people’s right to Internet access, yet they stopped Cuba from being able to connect to any fiber-optic cables passing nearby the island.

Cuba’s first steps towards Internet connectivity were via satellite, which was very expensive and provided low-speed access, which meant that only priority entities, such as tourism centers, universities and government offices, were able to connect.

Cuba’s state telecommunications company ETECSA, started to respond to the population’s interest in using cellphones, even though the country was suffering economic hardship as a result of the strict economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the US, over the past 60 years.

Over time, they were able to buy the expensive equipment needed, and in December 2019, six million Cubans had cellphones, meaning that over half of the population were enjoying this service. And this number continues to grow, which is an important step in the informatization process of Cuban society, which is a government priority right now.

Some 3.7 million customers have Internet access on their cellphones, although because these devices are so expensive, the service in itself is also quite expensive, but the company assures us that it will gradually drop prices and prices have, in fact, dropped to less than half the initial price of the service.

Installing the Internet in Cuban homes is another important step that ETECSA has taken, which is slowly being implemented as long as technical issues allow them to. However, the US blockade is stopping Cuba from having access to the advanced technology other countries have. Nevertheless, the country is slowly getting the technology it needs, although it is very expensive for an underdeveloped country which is also under siege.

Today, Cuban universities and health and science professionals all have access to the Internet. The country also has 2,500 websites up and running, 135 of which are media platforms.

In 2014, Cuba’s telecommunications company began to set up public pay-for WIFI hotspots and already has nearly 800 across the country, and it is expected that 50% of Cuban homes have broadband Internet access by the end of 2020. By late 2019, Cuba had almost seven million Internet users, which represented 57% of the population. However, due to US censorship, many websites are inaccessible from Cuba, and when we ask for a response the answer is that it is unavailable for our country.

First, they accuse the Cuban government of not giving the population Internet access, while they have stopped us from accessing technology and cable communication, and then when Cuba finally finds a way of getting this technology to give Cuban citizens’ access (as much as we are able to given the blockade), then they block our access to countless websites.

Cuba’s telecommunications company has recently announced that new mobile data package offers will be implemented, promoting 4G, as well as new ways to bring Internet access to Cuban homes with wireless networks and with different fiber-optic solutions. The Internet is another victim in Cuba of the US blockade, but it is also gaining ground.

Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.



15 thoughts on “Internet in Cuba, another Victim of the US Blockade

  • This time Elio has gone too far. Most of what he writes in this post is simply not the truth. The US does not block Cubans from accessing any public sites accessible to the general public. If you don’t understand the previous sentence, please reread. Elio makes no mention of the supposedly “high-speed” underwater internet cable from Venezuela. Remember the fanfare that surrounded that disaster? The only blocking of internet sites facing Cubans are those sites emanating from Cuba. Just ask the Havana Times administrator about Internet Site blocking. Elio, as a rule, exaggerates the “good” about the failed Castro regime and minimizes or ignores the enormous bad stuff. But in this article, he flat out lies.

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    • When Obama ordered the normalization of relations with Cuba, he allowed US companies to sell internet equipment to the island. Google signed a number of deals with ETEC S.A., the latest of which was signed last March just as Trump was about to target Cuba for propping up Nicolas Maduro.

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  • Chinese telephone and tablet makers can bypass the US restrictions, take the price issue up with them and I doubt it’s the US govt. censoring anything.

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  • To be fair, I think Elio is referring to such “sites” as iTunes, Google Play and others that for financial reasons per OFAC/Treasury Dept are required of have chosen to not permit traffic from Cuban IPs. However the idea that ordinary websites were being blocked is dubious.

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  • Elio is just a communist party troll for the dictatorship, nothing he says is true.

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  • Elio is senil. The Cuban dictatorship is the only one blocking Cuban to get access to the internet and free information. How ironic Señor Elio is that this site where you are defending the dictatorship constantly can be visit by Cuban living in the island because the regime has blocked.

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  • @Moses: Elio has gone too far? With what? By simply expressing his thoughts. Well if someone does not fit your opinion she is going too far? What a determinate view of the world, matching perfectly what you trying to claim in the rest of your statement.
    The US possessed a blockade that widely forbids any business with US ties to provide services (including services offered via web) to Cuba. Just make a test: go to amazon.com, try to order on apple.com, try to access certain services on an MSDN account @ microsoft, etc. Until short Microsoft Skype was blocked, Apple did not even have a country named Cuba in its settings, and… Microsoft sucks anyways. Now get calm and look at the world thru your own eyes.

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  • Its funny how some people blame the Microsoft company, we make good products.
    Its not our fault the u s government chooses to continue and contol where people may go on the web

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  • I repeat… the government of the United States does not block access for any website in the US to anyone from Cuba. If Cuban internautas are unable to access a website in the US it is because a private American website has chosen to block users from Cuba or the Cuban government is blocking them.

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  • Sincerly, lots of companies in Asia, Latin America and Europe can and are doing business in Cuba, the blockade is against American tourists, that’s it.Fidel used it as a handy excuse for the ongoing failure of communist socialism, not even Cubans believe that bs anymore.

    Wake up and smell the cafecito.

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  • Rationally, it only makes sense that certain web sites may be inaccessible for Cuba by certain providers considering a general financial inability in Cuba to gain profit. Cuba has made and continues to make progress with accessibility to internet services for the population.
    Moses, there is no need to be downright condescending when you disagree with other people’s opinion and beliefs. Be kind and respectful!

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  • Kind and respectful ?
    Mr Moses P was brought up to believe in the innate superiority of the USA. He swallowed the sophisticated cradle to grave propaganda and keeps going back for top-up helpings.
    When it comes to the big, bad commies, or anybody who sees any balance or middle ground, then the superiority complex which has been so thoroughly drilled in, leaves no room for ‘kind and respectful’.
    Elio’s opinions re internet may seen far fetched to some. I don’t necessarily buy it myself.
    But all sorts of rumours regarding the USA’s sicko policies toward Cuba were regarded as far fetched……
    Then along came wiki-leaks.
    The revaluations showed the depths the USA would sink to in order to assert control over what it’s leaders apparently regard as it’s ‘dominions’.
    ‘Far fetched’ no longer exists when it comes to these matters.

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  • It’s the Castro Cuban Government that has censored the 4G internet communications from CUBA not the USA. The USA is already on to the 5G broadband network. CUBA will always want to control and keep their people behind.
    I was in CUBA ten years ago on a People to People tour, and at that time the only people that had cell phones were tour companies and such. There were no citizens with such communication service. When I returned 8 years later I was surprised with all the people with cell phones and wi-fi hot spots for them to use.
    It was an explosion had transpired with all the tourism and hotels full of visitors. And now it is a ghost-like atmosphere when I read and see what is happening. It is so sad to see how for decades that generations have been kept ‘locked into time’!!!
    Apple is onto the i-11 phone and the cloud and streaming have become common n the USA. Not sure if and when or if ever CUBA will entertain such service???

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  • When all is said and done The Internet is a medium that helps people in infinite ways. The issue is on what’s your instruction and educational background is . The internet spreads information as fast as lighting but the user could be taught to distinguish ‘ bullshit ‘ from truth in ‘ the public information circles.’ Like Hitler said ‘ the academics don’t buy propaganda, but the masses of people do,’ and I am not an Aryan supremacy believer. Best !

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  • Equipment is available from China and Canada but Cuba has no money for upgrades and markup all internet service at least 4 times their cost. A very corrupt system.

    Reply

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