Private Wireless Networks Will No Longer Be Illegal In Cuba

The Bullet is a device widely used by young Cubans to create Wi-Fi networks. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 29 May 2019 — Starting this summer, Cubans will be able to legally use wireless devices to connect to the Internet from their homes or for the creation of private networks, provided that the use of these devices is not commercial.

The Government published two resolutions in the Official Gazette that define and legalize both wireless or wired interconnections between communities and the remote connection of people to the network of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa). The regulations will be take effect on July 29.

From that moment, any natural person can connect to the infrastructure of Etecsa via Wi-Fi with wireless devices such as antennas, NanoStations or Mikrotiks, all of which are very popular on the island but so far available only on the black market.

The users of these wireless networks will be able to use the frequencies of the band from 2,400 Mhz to 2,483.5 Mhz, and the band from 5,725 Mhz to 5,850 Mhz.

While a wireless network for domestic use only to connect within an address does not need a license, when it includes several homes or links several points outside them the administrator must request a permit. In this case, the price will be 10 CUP (Cuban pesos, roughly 50¢ US) and the permit will be valid for of 5 years. In addition, it will only be given to the owner of the property or, in the case of self-employed workers, the authorization of the landlord or owner of the premises.

Users of networks within a single address can not exceed 100 milliwatts of power (a reach of about 200 or 300 yards), which allows them to connect and share files or play without authorization.

Also available will be a license for wired and wireless networks (LAN / WLAN) when the device is outside the home for a price of 10 CUP, valid for two years. This type of network allows connecting a building or block as long as it does not interfere with public roads and does not exceed the 100 mW limit.

According to the official press, the Ministry of Communications will enable a retail network of approved equipment for the proper use of private data networks, whose technical frequency standards will be available to the user on the agency’s website, as well as the link to the products and brands.

To import a device, as long as it does not have a commercial nature, technical authorization must be requested through the Ministry of Communications website, by email or in person at the Territorial Directorates of the Technical Budget Unit for Control of the Radioelectric Spectrum.

The permit can be requested prior to the entry of the equipment at Customs, which will check it and verify that it is the same as what was declared, or it can be requested upon arrival at the Island. In this case it will be delivered within 30 days, when it has been verified that the equipment meets the requirements.

Private wireless networks have expanded in recent years on the island and have been an alternative to the problems of Internet connectivity. Among the best known is the so-called SNet, an intranet file exchange, instant messaging and games network that brings together tens of thousands of users in Havana and other cities.

That web of connections not only offers a cheaper internet experience but often is also free of censorship thanks to the fact that the flow of data passes through virtual private networks (VPN).

Police raids against wireless networks and the confiscation of their devices have been frequent. This occurs especially against those users who use nanoStations and Mikrotiks to extend the Wi-Fi signal from Etecsa that allows web browsing, and then charge others for redistributing the service.


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