Based on statistics from the International Telecommunication Union, only a mere 3.4% of all household in Cuba has access to the internet. It is one of the least internet connected nation in the world. Internet access is only accessible to specific users, such as reporters and students. Since 2013, there has been a total of 155 internet cafe for citizens to access paid internet, which costs about 4.50 CUC per hour (which is about 6SGD).
In order to increase the internet access to the nation, Cuba’s telecommunication company Etecsa has installed and opened 35 wireless access points in the country on 1st July 2015. These are paid services, and are found in the main cities in the countries. There are 5 of such points in her capital, Havana. The users have to first subscribe to the service by signing up with the telco, and then they will be charged based on an hourly rate.
On the streets of La Rampa in Havana, many Cubans are seen frantically connecting their smartphones to the wireless network. Apparently, many of them are using the service to check out their social media network.
An interview with an university professor from Cuba allowed us to understand the current situation and possible future growths in the ICT sector. He states that Cuba is the least internet accessible country in the Western world. Apparently, the Cuban government has realised that accessed to the internet is vital to the 21st Century economy of the country. With the opening of internet cafes in 2013 and the recent provision of public wireless access points, we can definitely see the actions made to improve the country’s connectivity to the internet.
However, the same report also states that internet access is definitely a luxury at this stage. Despite that the costs of getting online has decreased from 4.5CUC to 2CUC an hour, it is extremely expensive to the commoners, who draws an average salary of 20CUC per month.
Many Cubans believe that the opening up of internet access is directly linked to the easing tensions and better relationships with the United States of America. After talks since last December, the relations between Cuba and US has eased dramatically. US has decided to withdraw its isolationism policy towards Cuba and normalize relations between the two countries. Obama has relaxed the economic embargo for telecommunications on Cuba, hoping to promote the internet in Cuba. The two counties have also recently agreed to reopen their embassies. They will formally restore their foreign relations on 20 July 2015.