Cubans get con­nected

Weekend Herald - - World -

For the first time, av­er­age Cubans have be­come el­i­gi­ble to sign up for in­ter­net ser­vice for their mo­bile phones, a de­vel­op­ment long awaited on the com­mu­nist-ruled is­land.

Users be­gan re­ceiv­ing text mes­sages yes­ter­day from the state tele­phone mo­nop­oly in­form­ing them that they can buy an in­ter­net ac­cess pack­ages for 3G ser­vice.

Pre­vi­ously, nearly all Cubans could use their mo­bile phones only to get their state-run email ac­counts un­less they con­nected to the in­ter­net at a lim­ited num­ber of gov­ern­mentspon­sored Wi-Fi spots. Govern­ment of­fi­cials and for­eign busi­ness­peo­ple could use their mo­biles any­where to ac­cess the 3G net­work in re­cent years, though not al­ways re­li­ably.

The new ser­vice is be­ing made avail­able grad­u­ally through to­day de­pend­ing on a user’s phone num­ber, to avoid the con­ges­tion that struck Cuba’s mo­bile net­work dur­ing a se­ries of heav­ily crit­i­cised tests this year.

“It’s ex­cel­lent news,” said Gus­tavo An­du­jar, who works for the Catholic Church and was among the ini­tial group of users to re­ceive the an­nounce­ment from the phone com­pany, ETECSA. “It’s hav­ing the in­ter­net in your pocket!” An­du­jar said he will use the ser­vice to check email and check some in­for­ma­tion.

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