After a Two-Hour ‘Blackout’ in Cuba, Internet and Mobile Data Return

The last blackouts like this were in August 2019. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 12 February 2021 — Cuba was cut off from the world for two hours by an internet blackout. Telephone communications were also affected in the capital and in all areas of the country.

The 14ymedio correspondent in Spain lost contact with the Havana Newsroom shortly after 12 noon but was able to establish communication with a number in Cienfuegos, although it was very interrupted.

In addition, no official websites could be opened, from the Granma newspaper to the pages of the ministries, through all the provincial media, as well as social networks and messaging services.

“The internet went down in Cuba, I can’t communicate either by WhatsApp or by Telegram with anyone in my family,” said a Cuban resident in Ecuador. “It does not load Ecured or other .cu pages that I have tried to open from here, I even sent an SMS to my mother’s phone and the Ecuadorian operator has not confirmed that it reached her.”

“I have sent messages through various applications to my family without receiving responses for more than an hour,” confirmed another Cuban who lives in Spain.

The causes of the blackout are unknown, and, for now, the Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa) has not reported any breakdown. “We had a technical interruption in voice and SMS services, as well as Internet access, they are restored. We apologize for the inconvenience caused,” the company limited itself to tweeting almost an hour after the internet returned.

It is known that, after two hours, the connection was still intermittent and that the problem extended to sending text messages (sms), calls between mobiles and communications abroad from landlines. “The number 118, for Services and Repairs of Etecsa, did not work either,” a woman in Havana tells this newspaper after the service was restored.

“On the 1 pm newscast, almost at the end of the broadcast, they gave brief information that there were technical problems with the internet connection,” says the same source. “They transmitted that information just after giving a very triumphant news report where it was stated how well the Transfermóvil service was working to pay for some services, from cell phones that have data.”

Among the services affected were also sales in stores in freely convertible currencies (MLC), due to not being able to access the network that checks cards in national and foreign currencies.

Internet outages are frequent on the island, as is the blocking of some pages, such as 14ymedio, which the Government finds ’uncomfortable’, and of some services such as Telegram. However, a network crash of this nature and extent is unprecedented.

Cuba, which for years was one of the most disconnected countries in the world, began in 2015 a gradual expansion of internet use, which until then remained forbidden to the majority of the population.

At the end of 2018, the mobile data service arrived, which has triggered access to the network in the country. According to a report from the Ministry of Communications, currently 7 million Cubans access the internet through different channels, 4.2 million of them through mobile data.


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