14ymedio, Havana, 5 April 2017 – After complaints from customers, the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) lowered internet browsing prices for its “Nauta Home” service. A few weeks after the pilot test, only 358 users have signed up for the service, 41% of whom who participated in the pilot project.
The pilot offered the service for free, bringing the internet to 858 homes in two People’s Councils areas of Old Havana, between 19 December 2016 and 28 February of this year. Initially the pilot was designed to include some 2,000 families.
At first, ETECSA marketed 30-hour internet packages for a price of between 15 and 105 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) (roughly the same value in US dollars), at speeds ranging from 128 kilobytes to 2 Mb. However, as of 30 March, the minimum package has doubled the speed to 256 Kbps at the same price.
The 512 Kbps package now costs 30 CUC — more than the average monthly wage in Cuba — and the 1,024 Kbps costs 50 CUC, with 2,048 Kbps going for 70 CUC, a reduction of 40 percent; but the prices remain prohibitive for most Cubans.
The 512 Kbps package now costs 30 CUC — more than the average monthly wage in Cuba
The engineer Amarelys Rodríguez Sánchez, head of the Nauta Home Project, told the official press that during the test, issues such as contracting and service assistance were evaluated, as well as “the quality of the speeds.”
“The study has raised demand for wireless modems,” said the engineer, who added that customers also demanded that “rates be more affordable” and that there be a tool that allows them to “measure the speed at which they are surfing.”
The initial cost of a contract will now be 29 CUC: 19 for the purchase of the ADSL modem, and 10 CUC for the activation of user access.
Customers wishing to use more connection time will pay an additional 1.50 CUC for each extra hour.
Until now, web browsing from the homes had only been allowed for a select group of professionals
Until now, web browsing from home was only allowed for a select group of professionals such as doctors, journalists, intellectuals or academics, who needed government authorization to have the service.
Rodríguez justified the high rates because of “all the investments that must be deployed” by the company. “Fiber optic infrastructure solutions are very expensive, as is implementing a project that requires multiservice equipment.”
To continue expanding the service ETECSA needs to “make specific investments on fixed and mobile networks,” she said.
By the end of 2017, the company plans to have installed at least 38,000 internet connections in the island’s homes.