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Cuba broadens public access to internet

29 May 2013

In a step towards increasing availability of the internet to Cuban citizens, the government will begin offering access to the World Wide Web at 118 outlets around the island next month, reports the official Communist Party newspaper Granma. According to Resolution No. 197/2013 of the Ministry of Communications (MIC) published in the Official Gazette on Monday, internet access will be made available from 4 June at the offices of state-owned telecoms monopoly Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), and will be expanded to other locations in the future. At CUC4.50 (USD4.50) per hour, however, browsing the web at the new outlets is priced well beyond the reach of the average Cuban.

At present, the internet is only available at select state institutions and to tourists at around 200 hotels around the island, but the recent activation of Cuba’s first submarine cable, which connects the island to Venezuela with a link to Jamaica, has lessened the country’s dependence on expensive and slow satellite connections. ‘Expanding connectivity services in the country is in line with the strategy set by Cuba to further facilitate the population’s access to new technologies, depending on the availability of resources and with an approach that favours its social use,’ the Granma report said, adding that significant investments are still required to upgrade the island’s infrastructure to connect end users.

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