Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Internet/Cuba: Time Marches On…

March 21, 2013

Fernando Ravsberg*

HAVANA TIMES — Days, weeks, months and years go by without achieving the

promised computerization of Cuban society.

Gone is the debate as to whether the Internet will be social or

individual; most Internet users are ready to accept any option as long

as they have access.

I'm continuing to try to get some official at the Ministry of

Communications to give me some answers regarding the Internet situation

in Cuba.

It's true that their subordinates always warn me not to try to get too

close, but my optimism compels me to keep on insisting.

I managed to buttonhole one of the deputy ministers at the opening of

the 15th Computer Technology Fair. I decided to approach him since he

was fairly young and because a Cuban colleague assured me that "this guy

knows what's going on," explaining to me that he wasn't a simple bureaucrat.

I must admit he was more courteous and friendlier than other officials

I've met in the past, but in the end his response was essentially the

same: "I'm not going to make any statements…this isn't the place…some

other time…etc., etc., etc.

It was a shame he refused to talk because I wanted to ask him about an

issue that concerns the vast majority of Cuban cybernauts: the

difficulty connecting to the Internet and the extreme slowness of

navigating on it – even worse than it was several years ago.

The national telephone company (Etecsa) alerted people in its latest

statement that the existence of the new underwater cable "won't mean an

automatic increase possibilities for access," but what it never said was

that these possibilities would be reduced in the manner they've been.

My intention in speaking with the deputy minister was to either confirm

or rule out some of the rumors circulating on the island. People here

are speculating about the reasons for the ever increasing difficulties

in achieving even minimal internet access.

When I talk about the extreme slowness in navigating, what I mean is

that downloading a video is completely impossible. Similarly, opening

photos can take between 10 and 15 minutes, and opening 20 websites to

review the news takes about three hours.

As always, there are those who blame all the difficulties on the US

blockade, while of course the opposition assures us that it's a

government conspiracy to monopolize information.

Nevertheless there's a third group that recognizes the problem as being

a technical crisis.

The first two perspectives need no further explanations. We've been

hearing them forever, with them centering on everything being good or

everything being bad. In contrast, most of the experts I consulted

believe the dire situation is due to technological difficulties.

One source told me that this time it has nothing to do with the

fiber-optic cable from Venezuela, which apparently doesn't work, but

doesn't harm. Currently there seems to be a greater problem with the

internal networks and systems of the island, which apparently have begun

to fail.

According to experts in the field, Cuban equipment and systems are so

outdated that they aren't even parts for them. This has been reducing

the country's capacity and forcing the regrouping of users in what's

still functioning, which would explain the declining speeds.

I'm beginning to understand the meaning of the statement made by Etecsa

when it said they need more "internal investment in the

telecommunications infrastructure."

I'm continuing to try to get some official at the Ministry of

Communications to give me some answers regarding the Internet situation

in Cuba. It's true that their subordinates always warn me not to try to

get too close, but my optimism compels me to keep on insisting.

There were four paragraphs in which — while not lying — would require

magic for them to reveal the truth.

Some experts agree that break downs are continuing to worsen, and they

say the only solution is the complete modernization of the internal

infrastructure, which would involve huge investment of money and time,

and would mean inconvenience to users.

The truth is that despite the government's investments in this sector,

connectivity is worsening with each passing day. This snail's pace is a

fact, but its causes are impossible to confirm with the authorities at

the Ministry of Communications.

Everything having to do with the Internet is maintained in the greatest

secrecy. The cable [from Venezuela] remains in the "testing" phase,

while there's talk about new investments but with no details. On top of

all that, they insist that people need to be patient while hoping for

"gradual growth."

Maybe we're wasting time thinking. In the end, potential Cuban Internet

users will remain exasperated in front of their computer screens while

the Ministry continues responding like in that old song: "Perhaps,

perhaps, perhaps."

—–

(*) An authorized Havana Times translation of the original published by

BBC Mundo.

http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=89936


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