Feature: Cuba to expand Internet access in public areas, private businesses
                 Source: Xinhua | 2016-05-29 08:04:39 | Editor: huaxia

People use mobile devices to connect to the Internet via WiFi in Havana July 2, 2015. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)

HAVANA, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Cuba seeks to expand Internet access throughout the island, particularly with public Wi-Fi spots and selected private businesses.

"We have taken important steps to expand Internet access with significant investments to have a favorable penetration rate in our country and making these services accessible to the majority of the Cuban population," Tania Velasquez, business and marketing director of the island's telecommunication company ETECSA told Xinhua.

Last year, ETECSA implemented 65 public Wi-Fi areas all over the Caribbean nation, mainly in parks and popular areas, along with 118 cybercafes that met the increasing demands of the population to have greater access to the web.

Since then it has become a popular sight in streets and parks to see Cubans of all ages with their cellphones, laptops and tablets searching the web, talking to their relatives abroad and interacting over different social networks.

"I think these areas are a positive first step but we need more access to the Internet. Today in Cuba young people are eager for information and greater knowledge," said Jesus Vivero, a 20-year-old college student.

In one of the most popular Wi-Fi areas in Havana, Vivero along with other university friends use their Internet time to video chat with family members or make new friends over Facebook.

Cubans must buy cards worth 1 hour or recharge their permanent Internet accounts at a cost of 2 CUC an hour (2 U.S. dollars) to connect to the web, an amount that for many is considerably high because the average salary for a state worker is around 24 U.S. dollars per month.

"The service has to be provided in better places and the cost must decrease taking into consideration how expensive it is for the average Cuban," added Alejandro Torres, a recently graduated journalist who works for state media.

According to ETECSA, this year 80 new Wi-Fi spots will be implemented not only in public spaces but also in recreational and sporting areas with more comfort for those who wish to connect, nonetheless the rate will remain the same.

"In the coming months there's an opportunity to diversify the services to access Internet in our country taking into consideration of people's demands and our economic possibilities," added Velasquez.

The senior official at ETECSA said the most urgent demands are to have an Internet connection on cellphones and at home, projects in which the Cuban company works along with other international telecommunication providers.

"We've publicly committed to work in these two areas to provide Cubans with services similar to what many countries currently offer but we must make changes to our connectivity platforms and replace old technologies to progressively increase our Internet penetration rates which are actually still very low," she said.

For many Cubans access to an affordable and comfortable Internet connection in the future should be a reachable life goal.

"We would like to have service at home and at reasonable prices according to our economic reality because the Internet is something necessary today for everyday life," said Andres Perez, a 30-year-old computer scientist.

People use mobile devices to connect to the Internet via WiFi in Havana July 2, 2015. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)

Official data provided by ETECSA showed that in 2012 around 5 percent of the population had access to the Internet, however that figure has increased since the Wi-Fi areas, public cybercafes and hotel connections opened over the last two years.

Cuba's Internet connection until 2013 was through satellite leading to high costs but a joint fiber optic cable with Venezuela and Jamaica started providing higher connectivity speeds and new development possibilities.

Another initiative the Cuban telecom monopoly will implement in the coming months is to set up Wi-Fi areas along with private business owners as a way to diversify the service to different segments of the population.

"We started providing the service in public places to reach as many people as possible but in the short term and in a gradual form the private sector along with ETECSA will have the possibility to set up Wi-Fi spots at their businesses," added Velasquez.

Since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States many Cuban state companies have held talks with their counterparts and ETECSA hasn' t been the exception.

The Obama administration loosened certain trade restrictions in the telecommunications sector but according to ETECSA these are very "limited" and "unsafe" for both parts.

"The U.S. blockade on Cuba is still in place and that represents the main obstacle towards a normal relation in any economic field, thus so far we have signed agreements with telecommunication companies only to provide services in the island," said the executive.

Velasquez acknowledged that ETECSA has held various meetings with U.S. telecom companies and is looking forward to establishing cooperation agreements in several areas regarding Internet connectivity.

"These companies are very interested in jointly working with ETECSA and we're assessing the exchange mechanisms we can put into action according to what U.S. and Cuba regulations allow," she noted.

In the coming months Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access should increase in this nation, meeting the widespread demands of Cubans and raising the island's connectivity rates.

Back to Top Close
Xinhuanet

Feature: Cuba to expand Internet access in public areas, private businesses

Source: Xinhua 2016-05-29 08:04:39

People use mobile devices to connect to the Internet via WiFi in Havana July 2, 2015. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)

HAVANA, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Cuba seeks to expand Internet access throughout the island, particularly with public Wi-Fi spots and selected private businesses.

"We have taken important steps to expand Internet access with significant investments to have a favorable penetration rate in our country and making these services accessible to the majority of the Cuban population," Tania Velasquez, business and marketing director of the island's telecommunication company ETECSA told Xinhua.

Last year, ETECSA implemented 65 public Wi-Fi areas all over the Caribbean nation, mainly in parks and popular areas, along with 118 cybercafes that met the increasing demands of the population to have greater access to the web.

Since then it has become a popular sight in streets and parks to see Cubans of all ages with their cellphones, laptops and tablets searching the web, talking to their relatives abroad and interacting over different social networks.

"I think these areas are a positive first step but we need more access to the Internet. Today in Cuba young people are eager for information and greater knowledge," said Jesus Vivero, a 20-year-old college student.

In one of the most popular Wi-Fi areas in Havana, Vivero along with other university friends use their Internet time to video chat with family members or make new friends over Facebook.

Cubans must buy cards worth 1 hour or recharge their permanent Internet accounts at a cost of 2 CUC an hour (2 U.S. dollars) to connect to the web, an amount that for many is considerably high because the average salary for a state worker is around 24 U.S. dollars per month.

"The service has to be provided in better places and the cost must decrease taking into consideration how expensive it is for the average Cuban," added Alejandro Torres, a recently graduated journalist who works for state media.

According to ETECSA, this year 80 new Wi-Fi spots will be implemented not only in public spaces but also in recreational and sporting areas with more comfort for those who wish to connect, nonetheless the rate will remain the same.

"In the coming months there's an opportunity to diversify the services to access Internet in our country taking into consideration of people's demands and our economic possibilities," added Velasquez.

The senior official at ETECSA said the most urgent demands are to have an Internet connection on cellphones and at home, projects in which the Cuban company works along with other international telecommunication providers.

"We've publicly committed to work in these two areas to provide Cubans with services similar to what many countries currently offer but we must make changes to our connectivity platforms and replace old technologies to progressively increase our Internet penetration rates which are actually still very low," she said.

For many Cubans access to an affordable and comfortable Internet connection in the future should be a reachable life goal.

"We would like to have service at home and at reasonable prices according to our economic reality because the Internet is something necessary today for everyday life," said Andres Perez, a 30-year-old computer scientist.

People use mobile devices to connect to the Internet via WiFi in Havana July 2, 2015. (Xinhua/Joaquin Hernandez)

Official data provided by ETECSA showed that in 2012 around 5 percent of the population had access to the Internet, however that figure has increased since the Wi-Fi areas, public cybercafes and hotel connections opened over the last two years.

Cuba's Internet connection until 2013 was through satellite leading to high costs but a joint fiber optic cable with Venezuela and Jamaica started providing higher connectivity speeds and new development possibilities.

Another initiative the Cuban telecom monopoly will implement in the coming months is to set up Wi-Fi areas along with private business owners as a way to diversify the service to different segments of the population.

"We started providing the service in public places to reach as many people as possible but in the short term and in a gradual form the private sector along with ETECSA will have the possibility to set up Wi-Fi spots at their businesses," added Velasquez.

Since the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the United States many Cuban state companies have held talks with their counterparts and ETECSA hasn' t been the exception.

The Obama administration loosened certain trade restrictions in the telecommunications sector but according to ETECSA these are very "limited" and "unsafe" for both parts.

"The U.S. blockade on Cuba is still in place and that represents the main obstacle towards a normal relation in any economic field, thus so far we have signed agreements with telecommunication companies only to provide services in the island," said the executive.

Velasquez acknowledged that ETECSA has held various meetings with U.S. telecom companies and is looking forward to establishing cooperation agreements in several areas regarding Internet connectivity.

"These companies are very interested in jointly working with ETECSA and we're assessing the exchange mechanisms we can put into action according to what U.S. and Cuba regulations allow," she noted.

In the coming months Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access should increase in this nation, meeting the widespread demands of Cubans and raising the island's connectivity rates.

[Editor: huaxia ]
010020070750000000000000011100001353957181