14ymedio, Havana, 22 August 2018 – The Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA), this Wednesday, is carrying out another test of Internet browsing on mobile phones but, unlike the prior one that was unlimited, this time users can only consume one package of 70 non-renewable megabytes, according to the state monopoly.
From eight in the morning until midnight today, customers have “access to the Internet for prepaid cellular services,” a statement from ETECSA indicated. “During the period of time foreseen for the test, it may be partially or complete stopped depending on the behavior of the network and the adjustments of technical parameters that are being evaluated,” the text adds.
In the first test, this past week, customers complained about the excessive slowness of web browsing from mobile phones, the constant crashes and the lack of prior notification.
The company clarifies on this occasion that “those customers who use email from their cell phones should consider that their use of the email will count against any remaining limits in their active accounts.”
The connection this Wednesday has been marked by slowness, frequent loss of the data signal and congestion in the service, despite the fact that, like the prior test, a pre-announcement was not made in the national media. Users can barely check their email accounts, use chat services and social networks such as Telegram or Facebook but are unable to play videos online or download applications.
On August 14 ETECSA ran the first public test of internet access from mobile phones, which includes some 800,000 users. The prices for connecting at public wifi points (equivalent to one dollar per hour) and in homes (between 15 and 70 dollars for a 30-hour package) are still very expensive for Cubans, whose salaries average the equivalent of 30 dollars a month.
As information about the test spread and a larger number of people began using the data package, the connection became slower and access to the MiCubacel portal became almost impossible. “In the middle of the morning I was able to download a small app from the Google Play store but after noon I couldn’t even open my Gmail account,” lamented Brandon, a 17-year-old who found out because a friend called him from Trinidad and Tobago to tell him that he had read about the test on the internet.
Some users in Sancti Spíritus told this newspaper that they had been able to make video calls through the IMO in the morning and others in Havana also confirmed the information although “with avery low quality image.”
The 70 megabyte package can be acquired by dialing *133 #, then following the menu and selecting the appropriate option number: Data (1), Daily Use (2) and Send (1) and also by accessing the MiCubacel portal (https://mi.cubacel.net) after registering as a user.
Translated by Wilfredo Díaz Echevarria
The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.