Cuban Phone Company ‘On the Verge’ of Offering Mobile Internet, But No Date Has Been Announced

Two women look at their phones while walking in Havana. (Luz Escobar)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 21 July 2018 — The technological infrastructure for the arrival of internet service to mobile phones is “almost there,” according to Tania Velázquez Rodríguez, a senior official at the state Telecommunications Company (Etecsa). Although she did not disclose the start date, her statements are consistent with a pre-launch “integral repair” that has caused failures in the company’s email and Nauta navigation services.

During a press conference, Velázquez called for “customers to prepare for the technological leap,” according to the official press. She said that Etecsa “is getting ready for this process with the decision to operate cellular telephony networks for 900 MHz, 1,800 MHz and 2,600 MHz.”

Currently there are more than five million cell phones in Cuba and Etecsa is preparing its commercial offices throughout the country to respond to the problems that the arrival of the internet will cause. “Everything is designed so that people can self-manage the configuration of the service without having to go into the offices,” Velazquez said.

Velázquez, Etecsa’s Vice President of Business Strategy and Technology, said access to the Internet through mobile telephony is among “the main objectives of the company” which has “the technological conditions to guarantee the quality and security of the service.”

Since Friday morning, Etecsa users have reported interruptions in Nauta email and navigation services. The failure is the second in less than three weeks affecting several official digital sites, such as the state newspaper Granma, Nauta national email service, and WIFI internet connection zones, as 14ymedio has found.

A customer service employee explained to this newspaper that she was doing “an integral repair on all the cellular telephony for the improvement of the network.” An interruption that many clients read in an optimistic key as the preparations continue to open internet browsing on cell phones.

For weeks, some privileged users have been enjoying web browsing from their mobile phones, including official journalists, foreign businessmen and diplomats.

The rest of the Internet users use wifi access areas installed in the squares and central locations of the country, in addition to the Nauta Hogar (Home) service which, this year, should reach 52,000 homes.

The official figures counted more than 4.5 million Internet users in 2016, most of them from the Wi-Fi zones installed after 2015, or from the internet rooms managed by Etecsa with terminals belonging to the company.

These data are questioned by experts who say that the government includes users who connect to intranet services, national e-mail and other portals hosted on local servers.


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