Luis Rondon Paz
HAVANA TIMES — I can’t believe it! A place with free Internet in Havana? “Yep, This is a project of Kcho, the artist, the guy is really something. In his studio located at ninth and 120th streets of the Romerillo neighborhood of Playa he has set up a free WiFi access point,” a friend told me. “Read this,” he said, showing me an article from the foreign press.
I couldn’t believe it, too good to be true, but as an amateur journalist, I promised that the next day I would investigate the matter.
So I did.
On the way to the artist’s studio the driver of the collective taxi said that Kcho has revolutionized the area and is known by the locals as the godfather of Romerillo.
When I arrived, I saw people all around, busy with their cell phones. Inside the place I could see with my own eyes that yes there was free internet for everyone visiting the famous “Art Laboratory Romerillo Studio.”
It was hard to believe and encouraging to see the number of young and not so young people with their phones freely accessing the Internet and without having to wait in a long line to connect or pay 4.50 CUC (5.00 USD) an hour.
There was the host of this social revolution from art, “Kcho”. I presented myself, praised his initiative and asked him a few questions.
“Brother, how long have you been providing this service?”
“Since a year and a half ago we offered free internet to the population in the library, and the WiFi service for two, almost three months,” he said.
While we were talking I mentioned that I had difficulty connecting, and he called the computer technician to solve my difficulty accessing the service. The techy informed me that the network generally is over-saturated, because they only have a 512 kbs / sec link.
He said this doesn’t meet the current demand and added that the service is available round the clock, as is the arts center. The claim was corroborated by two neighbors, “we sometimes come in the early morning hours, it’s when fewer people are here and there’s better connection speed.”
As expected, I could barely open one or two pages for the amount of people who were connected to the Internet via WIFI. So I shut down my computer and took some pictures as testimony to this great work for free access to information.
According to Kcho “Cubans are prepared for this, this locale provides this service for people to access Internet responsibly.” He said he feels a great satisfaction to see how students and seniors feel happy to be able to communicate with their families, without having to wait in line or pay 4.50 CUC for Internet access.
He noted that he was paying for the free internet service out of pocket and gets a lot of joy out of investing part of the proceeds from his art for the community.