Cuba Extends Expensive Internet Access

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government announced today that it will expand public Internet access on the island thanks to the fiber optic submarine cable laid from Venezuela, they say has been operational since August 2012.

The authorities said they will open 118 cybercafes across the country starting on June 4, reported dpa news on Tuesday. The cafes will be mainly in the major cities of the country, including 12 in the capital.

The expansion of services is possible due to the “already functioning fiber optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela,” said Juventud Rebelde newspaper.

Cuban officials reported in late January for the first time on the activation of the fiber optic cable laid from Venezuela, one of the most anticipated and controversial infrastructure projects in recent years on the island.

The project, initiated with the cooperation of the Venezuela of Hugo Chavez, should improve the very poor internet access on the island, one of the worst in the world. Until recently, the connection was made only via satellite.

The laying of the submarine cable from Venezuela, which also goes from Cuba to Jamaica, originally was to be ready in July 2011.

The new deal announced today reduced prices of public network access. These, however, remain high compared to international standards, and exorbitant for the average salaried Cuban.

Internet browsing will be charged at 4.5 CUC (5 usd) per hour. The rates are cheaper ($ 0.60 per hour) for Intranet access to the Cuban internal only web.

Before the change, Internet access is charged at an average of $8 CUC (8.80 usd) an hour especially in hotels in the tourism sector. Monthly wages in the state sector of the island average $20.

Issues that remain to be clarified are the quality and speed of the connections to be offered. Another matter is when home connections will become available for Cubans.  Currently only foreign residents and a limited number of government approved individuals can get a slow dial up connection.

9 thoughts on “Cuba Extends Expensive Internet Access

  • ‘It is lamentably understandable that the expansion of the physical
    infrastructure necessary to expand internet access would proceed slowly’

    NOW you are saying this?! after ALL I’ve tried to explain about network infrastructure and despite of that, continuing your dirty foolish tactic of ‘blaming on the Castros’!?

    Schizoid. And hypocrite.

  • This is a misleading an dishonest title, typical of Miami Herald – it should be ‘public cibercafés prices drop by 43,75%’ with the possible comment that ‘they remain being charged on CUC’. That’s it.

    The way it is presented, this is far from journalism.

  • Nope, but $5 an hour is way better than .80 cents the minute, depending on what kind of service will be offered. Exactly 10 times better to be precise if you can use skype or any other conferencing software capable of transmitting voice or video, even better for non urgent communications (it looks like you can get a international email account accepting relatively large attachments in the cheap side, so you can send an receive voice/video attachments for 80 cents the hour, way better than the 80 cents the minute for the telephone calls).

    In any case, modest as it is, this is certainly an improvement and will be cheaper than the $10 per hour your family had to pay before for access from hotels and cybercafes for the exact same service.

  • AC, what was not included in this post is that there will only be 334 computers added for this ‘expansion. That’s less than 3 computers per site! So not only will it be expensive, but there will be long lines waiting to get online. This is pitiful, even for Cuba.

  • I cannot wait to read what HAVANA TIMES contributors have to say about this ridiculous measure that does but highlight the Cuban government’s lack of will to truly allow Cubans internet access.

  • Do you think that my family, much as they may wish to keep in touch with us, those-still-living-in-the-island, can afford to send yet another 200 usd each month, on top of funding cellphones, food, construction materials, and every single material need to now fund internet access too???? Once more we are condemned to live as parasites of our family in the US and they are blackmailed into paying for overpriced communications.

  • Yes and No. You are right about them having other priorities, but remember that a sizable portion of Cubans live abroad and want to keep in contact with their families and internet is a cheap alternative to the ridiculously overpriced international calls over there.

    Besides, the bulk of Cubans with Internet access do so from schools, computer clubs and their workplaces, also most MDs have at least private access to Intranet and international email from home using INFOMED and reporters (and by that I mean REAL reporters with a REAL title and working as such) and few others have private access to full Internet from home as well.

    Also, there is a small, but significant percent of the population buying illegal accounts or backdoor solutions in the cheap side ($25-$40 USD a month if I recall).

    Only the desperate would ever buy access at $10 the hour in the tourist sites but even for them this is an improvement,

    I’m fairly sure this announcement is just a timid pilot plan to see how things work for them, is inevitable that the prices go down and the access increases and as long as the government retains its monopoly status, is trivial for them to filter the traffic and block sites and services they don’t like.

    Sure, that is less than ideal, but firewalled access is way better than no access at all and the extra cash is a strong incentive to modernize the infrastructure.

  • It is lamentably understandable that the expansion of the physical infrastructure necessary to expand internet access would proceed slowly. Despite the media attention paid to this issue outside of the island, Cubans on the street are not clamoring in great numbers for more internet access. During my visit to the island last week it rained heavily. After each rain, I was cautioned by my Cuban friends to be careful to not walk on the sidewalk under balconies as the risk of collapse is greatest just after the sun hits the wet stone. Think about that…Cubans have to worry about buildings collapsing on them. Internet access is simply not a current priority. Until the cost of internet access falls within the budget of most Cubans, it will remain a luxury largely enjoyed by government officials and jineteras. OK, that’s a little harsh, but it’s still a tiny percentage of the population that accesses the internet.

  • Censorship by any other name (in this case price) would smell as sour

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