The Internet in Cuba was introduced in the late ’90s, but it wasn’t until 2007 that it’s greatly improved.
Person holding a paper with Wifi symbol. / Photo: Rawpixel - Reference Image
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Leer en español: Datos sobre los puntos de acceso WiFi ilegales en Cuba
The advent of the Internet has brought us wonderful things. Among them, the ability to connect with almost anyone in the world, create a platform where anyone can create content, work from home as well as start a business that potentially will have a great market. To say that the Internet is the greatest invention in the modern world is an understatement.
Alongside the rise in popularity and usage of the Internet is also the rise of mainstream consciousness. People now have the tool, in their very hands, to start anything they want. It’s freedom that’s unprecedented. This may be the reason why several nations across the globe have limited their public’s access to the Internet. One of these is Cuba.
Historically, Cuba as a country has seen some tumultuous time in its day. There always has been political and social unrest in the country, and as evidenced in some cases of its history, one small misstep, even an isolated incident may cause an uprising. The Internet in Cuba was introduced in the late ’90s, but it wasn’t until 2007 that it’s greatly improved.
SNET is illegal but tolerated
If you are a tourist wondering if there is Internet in Cuba, the plain and simple answer is yes. Internet is available in Cuba. Although it is in early conception, the government-owned and run Internet provider, ETESCA has since rolled out connections with 3G speeds as of 2018. Most hotels provide WiFi, although it’s not free.
SNET, a grassroots movement with the aim to allow young people to access games and movies, started when the need for young people to blow off steam through games was at an all-time high. The emergence of big brand games such as DotA, Starcraft and World of Warcraft has strengthened the need to create an underground network.
SNET isn’t online, but it’s the biggest community network at its peak. With the government’s takeover in 2019, all of SNET’s data were transferred to ETESCA which was consequently published online. This prompted the government to allow homes and businesses to install WiFi networks.
Only the rich and clever has full access to connections
Since ETESCA has set up WiFi hotspots all over the country, it’s not unusual to see people converging outside a hotspot all day in order to be online. While most of the Western hemisphere have been enjoying the convenience of broadband as well as LTE and fiber, Cuba has yet to install a network that will improve its connectivity.
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The government is certainly to blame as it’s socialist propaganda has made the country lagging in information accessibility through WiFi technology. Most of the dissent on this comes from private individuals, but there are also businesses and megacorporations that support the online freedom the country is fighting for.
Illegal WiFi hotspots ran rampant across the country, but severe consequences when caught and proven have decreased the number of them recently. Nowadays, people choose to flock the state-run WiFi networks peppered across the country. It’s safer this way, although the speeds can’t accommodate the volume of usage.
Although the beaches and sights in Cuba are to die for, if you’re a tourist wanting to document your travels online, the hurdles you’ll face can be too much of a trouble for one single post. Although most hotels have WiFi connections, you have to pay for it extra, mostly by the hour as well, so you’re better off just taking pictures and posting them later.