Cuba loosens internet, opens 35 new Wi-Fi hotspots

State telecom Etecsa says nationwide hotspots will begin service in July

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Cuba announced on Thursday that it will open 35 public Wi-Fi hotspots and halve its price for hourly internet access.

It is "a first step toward increasing Internet access," Etecsa communications chief Luis Manuel Diaz told a state Juventud Rebelde, the Cuban newspaper of the Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas (Union of Young Communists).

Diaz told the newspaper that 35 government hotspots will begin to provide a $2 an hour Wi-Fi service next month, dropping from a previous price of $4.50.

In a country where the average salary is $20 a month, the prices are still too high for ordinary Cubans.

According to the International Telecommunication Union, only 3.4 percent of Cuban homes were connected to the internet in 2013.

The internet speed of users will be limited by 1 MB at hotspots and the infrastructure can deal with between 50-100 users at one time, EnGadget claims.

However, even this limited connectivity is big news for Cubans.

“The internet space is opening up. This is a significant step,”  Norges Rodriguez, a blogger and telecommunications engineer in Havana, told the Independent.

“A year or two ago, we didn’t have anything like this.”

TRTWorld and agencies