14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2017 — Cuba’s state telecommunications company ETECSA will expand its Nauta Hogar (Nauta Home) service beginning Friday, 29 September, and extend it “gradually through December to all the country’s provinces,” more than six months after the conclusion of the first tests of free home internet access.
Amarelys Rodríguez Sánchez, Director of the Havana Network Operations Division, explained to the official press that the service will begin in the provincial capitals of Pinar del Río, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Guantanamo and some of the surrounding districts, where there are technical conditions in place to support it.
“Anyone who has a fixed home phone line will be a potential customer and will be contacted by telephone to arrange the appointment, if they are interested, to sign the service contract,” she explained.
The offer consists of an allowance of 30 hours per month for a price of 15 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC, roughly $15 USD), for the basic navigation speed and paid in advance. The customer must also pay an additional monthly fee depending on the speed requested in the contract.
To contract with Nauta Hogar the subscriber must have digitized telephone service and the conditions that support the configuration of the contracted speed, and in addition must acquira an ADSL modem from ETECSA at a price of 19 CUC.
The subscriber must also have a computer. The user will access the network through a Nauta account to which the 30 hours of navigation will be charged; the hours do not carry over and can only be used within each month.
The contracted navigation time is loaded when the service is enabled and, subsequently, on the first day of each month. If the contracted hours are exhausted, the account can be recharged through the prepaid vouchers that are already commonly used to connect to wifi services at public hotspots.
Rodríguez Sánchez, head of the Nauta Hogar project, clarified that if the customer contracts for a speed of 256 Kbps upload (.024 Kbps download) they will get the first month free and receive a 15 CUC bonus. Users who contract higher speeds will enjoy the same advantage and only have to pay the difference depending on the selected speed.
The price for the 512 Kbps package will continue to be 30 CUC, while the price for 1,024 Kbps will be 50 CUC and the price for a speed of 2,048 Kbps will be 70 CUC, prohibitive amounts for most Cubans, the majority of whom – those employed by the state – earn an average total monthly wage less then the 30 CUC price of the cheapest service.
Once the contract has been entered into, the service will be activated within 72 hours and the customers themselves must install the modem on their phone lines, for which they will be given a quick installation guide.
Last January, the state monopoly chose 2,000 users in the district of Catedral and Plaza Vieja in Havana for a pilot test of home web connectivity that ended on February 28. In the capital there are currently 600 active Nauta Hogar accounts.
The service will also be extended to other municipalities in Havana to the extent that each area has the technical conditions to support it. “The initial plan is for 38,000 connections,” said Domínguez.
A 2016 report by the US organization Freedom House regarding internet service on the island says that the penetration of the web in the country is between 5% and 31%. Meanwhile, dozens of web pages are blocked because of their content.
Another recent study published by Amnesty International reports that only 25% of the population can connect to the Internet and only 5% of households have access to the network. For years, a home connection was granted only to some professionals, doctors, journalists, intellectuals or academics with proven ideological fidelity to the ruling party.