Res­i­dents surf web at home in Ha­vana pi­lot project

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By REUTERS in Ha­vana

Down­town Ha­vana res­i­dent Mar­garita Marquez said she re­ceived a spe­cial Christ­mas gift this year: web ac­cess at home, a rar­ity in a coun­try with one of the low­est in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion rates in the world.

Marquez, a 67-year-old re­tired univer­sity pro­fes­sor, was among those se­lected by the gov­ern­ment two weeks ago to par­tic­i­pate in a pi­lot project bring­ing the web into the homes of 2,000 in­hab­i­tants of the his­toric cen­ter of the is­land’s cap­i­tal. per­cent

Most of Cuba’s 11.2 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants only have ac­cess to in­ter­net at Wi-Fi hotspots, and only then if they can af­ford the $1.50 hourly tar­iff that rep­re­sents around 5 per­cent of the av­er­age monthly state salary.

Only 5 per­cent of Cubans are es­ti­mated to en­joy in­ter­net at home, which re­quires gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion. This is usu­ally granted mainly to aca­demics, doc­tors and in­tel­lec­tu­als.

“It’s like a dream come true,” said Marquez, who lives with her sis­ter in a sec­ond-story flat in a colo­nial-era build­ing. “To be in touch with the out­side world is im­por­tant.”

Her 80-year-old sis­ter, Leonor Franco, said the news they had been se­lected came as a sur­prise and she was ex­cited to be surf­ing the web for the first time.

“I had never had any ex­pe­ri­ence of in­ter­net,” she said, seated in front of a lap­top she has owned for two years without web ac­cess, search­ing for videos of her fa­vorite singers on YouTube.

She said she wanted to learn how to surf the web prop­erly so she could make the most of the ex­per­i­ment, and for as long as the gov­ern­ment pro­vided free in­ter­net ac­cess.

“From March we will have to start pay­ing and we don’t know if we will be able to con­tinue. So at least we are go­ing to en­joy Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary,” she said.

of Cubans are es­ti­mated to en­joy the in­ter­net at home, which re­quires gov­ern­ment per­mis­sion

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