Plans to Broaden Internet Access in Cuba Leaked

By OnCuba

HAVANA TIMES — Replacing the current low-speed dial-up systems with broadband Internet connections during 2015 and 2016 – and taking these services to at least 50 % (or 1,942,950) homes by 2020 – are two of the noteworthy aims of Cuba’s Ministry of Communications, part of a “National Strategy for the Development of Broad Bandwidth Infrastructure in Cuba.”

These plans are contained in an executive summary leaked by the blog La Chiringa de Cuba on June 8. The document outlines the political will of Cuban authorities to extend online access on the island, which currently reaches 25.7 percent of the population, although most of those can only access the local “Intranet”.

The document confirms plans to set up Wi-Fi networks this year and begin offering broadband mobile Internet services for Cuban users, through a 3G technology network.

The plans announce that authorities hope to achieve 100% connectivity at all levels of Communist Party entities, all government bodies, banking institutions and mail offices by 2018. By 2020, 80% of commercial entities (State and private) and 95% of educational and health institutions should enjoy a quality Internet connection.

By then, access to a 256 kbit/s broadband connection should not cost more than 5% of the average monthly salary in Cuba.

One of the obstacles that the implementation of this nationwide strategy runs into is the country’s poor, existing infrastructure. Only 24.1% of the population has access to landlines and a mere 21.4% uses mobile phones.

To start with, authorities aim to guarantee a broadband connection of at least 256 kbits/s. In the course of time, the definition of broadband should evolve towards advanced bandwidth (2048 kbit/s or 2 Mb download speed) and total bandwidth (10 mbit/s download speed), by 2025 and 2030, respectively.

According to the document, broadband (fixed or mobile) currently reaches 0% of the population and only 3.4% of homes have Internet access.

En la esquina de 23 y N, en la fachada de la Biblioteca Médica, hace pocos días fue instalada una antena para conexiones WiFi. En varias ciudades del país se han comenzado a implementar ya zonas WiFi. Hasta el 30 de junio dura una promoción de ETECSA para el pago de recarga de tarjeta Nauta, a 2.25 CUC la hora de conexión.
A WiFi antenna was recently installed on the outside of the Medical Library on the corner of 23rd and N Streets in Vedado.  In several cities of the country the move to create WiFi zones has reportedly begun.  Until June 30th, ETECSA is offering the service for a special rate of 2.25 CUC (2.60 usd) an hour.

The document currently being circulated at different State entities in search of suggestions summarizes a larger, 83-page document, where this strategy is fully laid out. The latter should be approved this coming June 22 and then be made public. The complete implementation schedule will not be ready until October. By then, the costs, terms and officials responsible for implementing the scheme should be defined.

The document also insinuates plans to relax the monopolistic control maintained by Cuba’s telecommunications company ETECSA.

One of the “measures” described suggests “diversifying entities that offer Internet services through different forms of relationships with the telecommunications operator, to incentivize the rendering of services that prioritize social sectors.”

In the future, this scheme may include non-State management of third-party Internet services, such as cybercafés or small operators, based on the use of “telecommunications agents,” one of the self-employment categories approved which is currently limited to the sale of pre-paid mobile phone cards and collecting payment for telephone services.

The leaked document also reveals that a Telecommunications and New Technologies Law, a Decree Law and other complementary norms are currently being developed to put an end to the legal vagueness and regulatory backwardness that exists in Cuba today.

Here is a link to the complete document for OnCuba readers. We will continue to cover the issue in future articles.  Estrategia Nacional para el desarrollo de la Banda Ancha en Cuba. Resumen Ejecutivo (“National Strategy for the Development of Broad Bandwidth in Cuba. Executive Summary”)

11 thoughts on “Plans to Broaden Internet Access in Cuba Leaked

  • Well, there are many companies who are willing to start internet services in Cuba and they will start sooner.

  • LOL – since when is there voting in Cuba?

  • The 2 Mb/s plan is for a DSL upgrade to the existing central offices and installing and upgrading copper wires where needed. They also say they will upgrade the cellular network to 3 and 4G in the short run. In the longer run, you may have access to faster technologies like those mentioned here:

    And, in 2030 you will be a lot younger than I am today :-).

  • It would be a waste with today’s domestic infrastructure, but I have seen a plan for a four-stage rollout of a fiber backbone running the length of the island and connecting to the undersea cable. I do not know the timetable for the backbone, but it may be released in October, as mentioned in the executive summary of the broadband plan.

  • Actually I may be wrong . Can 256kb even access anything today? …Certainly not streaming! So by 2025 Cuba will be where the rest of the world was in 1990. It boggles the mind. The free market would have resolved the issue long ago. Instead you have communist central planning and typical Castro inefficiency ….hurray for communism!

  • We are still using satelite connectivity, forget about the cable, that was an waste of money and time. 🙁

  • when you said “…and the 256 kb/s they are planning for won’t allow access to anything
    but the most basic of websites. ….That and the absolute fact that
    Cuba is implementing a China like “great fire wall” that will allow for
    filtering and monitoring of web traffic.” i agree, See one of the biggest intranet and internet provider in Cuba . and they have a squid proxy and routing rules to filter all the traffic, in fact in the place where they provide you pay internet access from ETECSA spots, the computers have filtered access to secured connection, for example to make safe money transferences (SSL under SSL ) simply does not work because the firewall of the provider, among other restrictions.

  • i can LOL instead cry, Im 32 years , its 2015, 2MB how old i am in by 2025 and 2030?,… its hilarius and sad, really sad. when i get 42 years i would be probbaly living in other country, i would be death or not in the need to be online, or maybe there would be satelite for free internet directly to cellphones.

  • I am strongly in favor of a powerful internet connection for Cuba and all the more reason that the US especially provide and assist in doing so. A classic point on how social media has changed the world has to be Ireland voting for Gay marriage. This would never have happened without the internet.
    The same is true in the US as it would have been unheard of for the US to have moved forward with gays getting equal rights and legally get married. It’s called social media and it’s more powerful than the insane monies the US spends to try to convince Cubans to give up marxism. My guess is that if Cuba had wide internet access there would still be 35% or so in favor of keeping the present system but a majority would vote for rapid change. This is what the present government, who are much smarter than many on this board give them, are fearful of.

  • Your obeservations are correct, but this is more information than we are used to see coming out of Cuba. Still it leaves many questions unanswered or example, when they refer to “Internet connectivity,” do they mean international Internet connectivity and, if so, is it over satellite or undersea cable?

    Here are a few more obsrevations:

  • There are so many issues with providing widespread Internet access to Cubams that I don’t know where to begin. As this article noted, less than 30% of Cubans even have a landline they can use, and service is spotty at best. They have a lot of work to do just to gettegulqr phone service up and running on the island, much less widespread internet access.

    …and the 256 kb/s they are planning for won’t allow access to anything but the most basic of websites. ….That and the absolute fact that Cuba is implementing a China like “great fire wall” that will allow for filtering and monitoring of web traffic.

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