There’s no doubt that Cuban government policy limits access to the Internet, but I think it’s generally agreed that even if policies were different, wider access would be problematic because of bandwidth limitations. Figuratively,
If the government were to allow multiple Internet service providers, that would help, but that’s not going to happen.
A fatter pipe is on the way, in the form of a new fiber optic cable connection from
So how will this change Cubans’ access to the net?
A deputy communications minister, Boris Moreno, told AFP the priority will continue to be “to privilege collective access,” which I take to mean workplaces as opposed to individuals and residences. Later, communications minister Ramiro Valdes was interviewed by Reuters and his message was a little different: “conceptually,” there’s no policy against broader access, he said, and the “restrictions are technological and economical.” As opposed to ideological, we can guess.
Meanwhile, access is definitely increasing in another telecom service: cell phones.
Juventud Rebelde ran an article on cellular phone service in
- Etecsa recognizes that consumer prices are high, and there’s an intention to lower prices, but no indication when or by how much.
- “Teléfonos Fijos Alternativos” (“alternative fixed-line phones”) are wireless phones installed in private homes or “centros agentes” and available to the community, serving as “a kind of public phone.” They account for 30 percent of wireless lines and 80 percent of wireless traffic. In effect, this service is subsidized by hard-currency customers: Cubans and foreigners who pay for regular cell phone service, and tourists who pay roaming fees.
does not have “calling party pays,” and maintains the practice of charging customers per minute for calls that they receive. Etecsa says that this practice ensures that consumers limit the length of their calls – otherwise, calls from land lines to cell phones would tie up the wireless network. Cuba
- 133,000 wireless lines were added in 2008, including 40,000 in December in response to a reduction in activation fees.
- The average customer uses 36-40 minutes per month and is billed 19-20 convertible pesos.