Only 70,000 Cubans are Connected to the Internet From Their Homes

The commercialization of Nauta Home is part of a government strategy seeking to close the technology gap with the rest of the world. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, January 19, 2019 — Only some 70,400 Cubans — out of a population of more than 11 million — are today connected to the internet from their homes, a service that has grown timidly since its beginning in 2017, compared to the popularity of the recent activation of mobile data with 3G technology, which has exceeded 1.8 million customers in a little more than a month.

Cuba, one of the most disconnected nations on earth, offers the Nauta Home service for individuals in 115 of the 168 municipalities of the country, according to information received from the state telecommunications monopoly Etecsa, published this Saturday by the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth).

95% of Nauta Home users use a 1 megabit connection, the cheapest of the four available packages, which cost from 15 to 70 CUC, high prices compared with national salaries, the average of which doesn’t exceed 35 CUC per month.

Until two years ago, connection from home was a privilege only granted to officials linked with the Government, and professionals such as doctors, journalists, and university professors. The service had subsidized prices but very slow speeds when it came to sending and receiving data.

At first, the commercialization of Nauta Home was seen by customers as an alternative to browsing from the wifi zones with wireless connections that began to be installed on the Island in 2015. However, the slow expansion of the domestic service frustrated those early hopes.

The breaks and cuts in service have also been frequent in Nauta Home, which on January 14 was out of service for more than six hours because of technical problems that affected the entire country.

The arrival of internet to mobile phones on December 6 has caused many to place their hopes in the possible technical improvement and the price reduction of the service from cellphones. Currently browsing packages for 3G technology cost between 7 and 30 CUC, a price much criticized by users.

Until the appearance of mobile data, 60% of the 5.9 Cuban internet users accessed the net from their workplaces or schools.

In Cuba, with 11.1 million inhabitants, there are more than 5.3 million cellphone users.

In December, the Cuban Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, announced before Parliament that this year they would begin to test the mobile service with 4G technology in large cities, although he did not specify official activation dates.

Translated by: Sheilagh Carey


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