US wants to expand Internet access in Cuba

One hour of Internet connection in Cuba is equivalent to 5% of the average monthly wage

US wants to expand Internet access in Cuba

The United States State Department announced on Tuesday, January 23rd the creation of a special task force to promote the "free and unregulated flow of information" in Cuba by improving Internet access for citizens and the establishment of independent media.

As it is well known, technological advances are not a usual scenario in the island. It wasn’t until 2007 that the purchase of computers was legalized in Cuba. In 2012, the first submarine cable Internet connection was established. In 2014, the Cuba Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) started opening public Wifi spots connections in main cities and, according to reports from Internet World States, only 28% of the population had access to the Internet by that year.

Cuba has always keep American companies out of wiring programs that aim to improve Internet network in the country. Some even warn that the execution of technologies made with the help of the US only respond to destabilizing interests of the nation. That is why the announcement to create an Internet Task Force composed of US government and non-governmental representatives “to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba”was not well received in the island.

Cuban Communist Party’s official newspaper ‘Granma’ published the government's response to the US announcement stating that "in the past, phrases such as 'working for freedom of expression' and 'expanding Internet access in Cuba' have been used by Washington to mask destabilizing plans with the use of new technologies". ‘Granma’ also makes reference to the ZunZuneo project, an instant messaging platform similar to Twitter that was intended be used by among young Cubans, but according to an investigation carried out by AP news agency, its true purpose was to affect internal order in the country.

2017: Internet “boom” in Cuba

Cuba has worked on the establishment of WiFi zones in its main cities and it has even reached, back in 2016, an agreement with Google to improve Internet surfing. However, the majority of Cubans do not have access to the network.

According to the Digital in 2017 Global Overview Report, last year, Cuba was the country with the highest growth in two digital categories: Use of mobile phones to access social networks, with an increase of 385% compared to 2016; presence in social networks with a rise of 365% comparing the same temporality. This is how several specialists affirm that 2017 will be remembered in Cuba as the year when Internet expansion experienced a "boom".

In recent years, Cuban government has been improving Internet technology and distribution through the country in order to ensure better network access for its citizens. Nonetheless, the trade embargo imposed by United States has delayed infrastructure development making unaffordable the cost of the required modifications.

 

Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo
Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

 

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