High tariffs hinder Cubans’ web access at internet centres
Thursday 11 July 2013 | 08:08 CET | News
High prices are blocking the Cuban population’s access to internet
services via the government’s recently launched cybersalon project. Cuba
opened 118 public internet centers on 4 June. Run by state-owned
operator Etecsa, these centers charge USD 4.50 an hour, which means that
a session at one of the new cybersalons costs almost as much as the
average state worker earns in a week, The New York Times reports.
Millions of Cubans have never been online. Professionals such as
doctors, journalists, academics and artists qualify for a dial-up
connection at home. Others use pirated connections, rent time on a
neighbor’s line or log on at a hotel, where they pay about USD 8 an
hour. Many trade information on memory sticks or rely on stodgy
state-run periodicals for news, the newspaper says.
According to data released by the Cuban government, around 26 percent of
Cubans had internet access in 2012. However, this figure includes
millions who used only an intranet linked to their work. ITU puts the
number of broadband subscriptions in Cuba at 0.04 per 100 inhabitants,
or about one in 2,500, which makes Cuba the least wired country in the
Western Hemisphere. Even Cuba’s new cybersalons, which operate under the
brand name Nauta, amount to just one for every 95,000 Cubans.
Etecsa’s strategic programmes director, Jorge Legra, recently told Efe
that the company may start providing home internet services to ordinary
Cubans by the fourth quarter of 2014. Etecsa is currently studying
bringing ADSL broadband technology to the home. Etecsa officials have
also said the company plans to offer mobile broadband access by the end
of next year and will gradually reduce the price of connectivity.
Source: “High tariffs hinder Cubans’ web access at internet centres –