Cuba’s state media lifted a ban on private WiFi networks. Since July 29, Cubans have been able to legally connect to the Internet and share their access with others using devices such as private wireless routers. It was a large step for Cuba to expand Internet access.
Cuba network lagged behind
Most western countries have far more access to the Internet than Cuba. The lack of Internet prevents many visitors from going to Cuba for a vocation. Before 2013, WiFi is mostly available in hotels.
Since 2013, the government promoted Internet connection by outdoor WiFi.
Cubans can only be “online” by going to state-run Internet centers and hotels catering to foreign tourists. Cuba telecom, a state-owned company, is the only Internet service provider.
In 2015, major cities ushered in the first dozens of paid public WiFi outlets in public places such as parks; Cubans can buy CARDS issued by Cuba telecom to access WiFi “hot spots” and connect to the Internet. Rates start at a few dollars an hour, then go down to a dollar an hour. Considering Cuba’s average salary of 20 dollars, it is beyond their means.
Illegal network connection
Due to rare WiFi spots and expensive access fees, many Cubans buy smuggled antennas to pick up WiFi signals from nearby routers and set up local area networks in their homes. To do this, you still need to buy a network card issued by Cuba telecom to connect to the network.
What’s worse, online game players even connect up to thousands of computers from one house to another. Current regulations do not allow such “indigenous networks” to access Internet services without permission.
In recent years, the regulatory authorities have mostly turned a blind eye to illegal Internet connections. But Internet users still fear raids and confiscation of equipment.
New rules may boost tourism
As the latest regulations reduce illegal connections in Cuba, it may also have a significant impact on tourism. Citizens are permitted to set their own wireless routers at home or office. Visitors in Cuba will no longer face the difficulty of network connection.
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