Cuba launches net on mobile phones
HAVANA: Cubans will be able to access the internet on their mobile phones from today, state-run telecoms monopoly ETECSA said, marking a milestone for what has long been one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries. Nearly half of the Communist-run country’s 11.2 million residents have cellphones although not all will be able to afford mobile internet. In a news show broadcast late on Tuesday, ETECSA executives announced a range of packages valid for 30 days from 600 MB for the equivalent of $7 dollars to 4 GB for $30. Without a package, 100 MB will cost users $10.
The cost will be out of reach for many Cubans as the average state wage is around $30 per month, and many people rely on remittances from relatives abroad or side gigs to get by. “It was about time this became a possibility for Cubans too,” said Havana resident Joaquin Montiel, 58. “But for some, like me, it’s still a remote one.” Montiel said he would not be able to afford a cellphone with 3G technology on his wage of less than $20 per month as a salesman in a state company. Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in Web access, whether because of a lack of cash, a long-running US trade embargo or concerns about the flow of information.
Until 2013, internet was largely only available to the public at tourist hotels on the island. But the government has since made boosting connectivity a priority, introducing cybercafes and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots and slowly starting to hook up homes to the Web.