Home > Iván García, Translator: GH > Cuba: Internet in Your Home from September / Ivan Garcia

Cuba: Internet in Your Home from September / Ivan Garcia

cuba_internet_0-620x330According to a spokesman for ETECSA, the only telecoms company in Cuba, they are going to start marketing internet in peoples’ homes, with ADSL included, from the first half of September.

We don’t yet know what the price of the installation will be. What has come to light in a document which we have seen are the different tariffs for national and international internet surfing.

The document, put out by Ibis Díaz Silva, commercial executive of ETECSA’s Oficina de Pequeños y Medianos Usuarios (Office of Small and Medium Users ), indicates that the 20 hour internet package will cost 10 convertible pesos a month, 50 hours 15 cuc (Cuban convertible currency), 100 hours 30 cuc, 180 hours 50 cuc, and 220 hours 60 cuc. There will be a 90 hour package, usable between 8 pm and 7 am which will be offered at 20 cuc. They will sell additional hours at 30 convertible pesos.

Additionally, starting from September, they will market the local intranet network at a lower price, where you can find official media. The connection speed will be between 2 and 4 megabytes.

Gradually, Raúl Castro’s government has taken some steps forward to provide internet access for Cubans. On 4th June 2013, ETECSA opened 116 navigation rooms in 15 provinces of the country.

Up to this month, according the ETECSA spokesman, about 600,000 customers have connected to the network. Last February 25th, the Gaceta Oficial de la República (Official Gazette of the Republic) announced new cellphone internet tariffs. And from 2013, ETECSA workmen have been busy putting in place wireless networks in different parts of Havana.

The prices of these new services have generated a lot of controversy. The point is that the Cuban man in the street, with an average salary of $20 a month, can’t afford the luxury of connecting to the internet while he has no chicken, fish or meat in his pantry.

One way or another, nearly everybody is complaining. Whether they are unknown citizens, like the private shoemaker Alfonso Ayala, who has never surfed the net, or official journalists like Elaine Díaz or Alejandro Rodríguez, who have criticised the excessive prices in their blogs.

“One hour at 4.50 cuc (Cuban convertible currency) is equivalent to 112 Cuban pesos. Repairing shoes, I make between 80 and 100 Cuban pesos a day. All my income is for buying food and supporting my wife and kids. As far as I can see the internet continues to be out of my reach,” says Ayala.

As far as the regime is concerned, the internet is an invention of the US special services with the aim of colonising information and culture. Only the inescapable necessity of not continually putting the brakes on Cuban professional development has forced the government to authorise access to the internet.

It all started in 1998, when the island was connected up, via satellite, more slowly and with a narrower band than a public university in New York. The official press blamed the technological backwardness on the trade embargo imposed by Washington, which forbids connection to the underwater cables owned by US companies, which surround the green Cayman Islands. And we know that Cuba and the USA are continuing with the Cold War. And truth is the first casualty of any war.

According to the ETECSA spokesman, in 2010, some gringo companies located in Florida were authorised by the Obama government to negotiate with Cuba to recommission an old unused underwater cable.

“The project was viable. It cost $18m with a bandwidth right for our requirements. But the government preferred to bet on the so-called digital self-government and designed a project jointly with Venezuela called ALBA1, stated the source.

At a cost of $70m, the submerged cable connected the twin cities of La Guiara and Siboney in the east, in Santiago de Cuba. There is a spur off it which goes off to Kingston, Jamaica.

There is a structure of corruption around the cable in the upper echelons of the Ministry of Communications and Information, which led to the desertion of a high-up manager of ETECSA in Panama in 2012.

There was no news about ALBA1 until 4 June 2013, following the government decision to open new navigation rooms. There is no doubt that the famous cable clearly improved the connection speed.

Before that, in a five-star hotel like the Saratoga, where Beyoncé stayed last year with her husband JayZ, the connection speed was slow and expensive. At best it didn’t get past 100Kb. And 2 hours of internet cost a bit over $15.

From September 2014 on, things are going to change, according to specialists I have spoken to. It could be that not many Cubans will be enthusiastic about the new provision, on account of its irrational pricing. But the ETECSA functionary referred to is optimistic and considers that the opening up of cyberspace will bring more positives than negatives.

Iván García

Photo: A Cuban surfs the net in one of the cyber cafes opened by ETECSA all over the island in June 2013. Taken by El Universal.

Translated by GH

9 March 2014

  1. March 15, 2014 at 9:30 am

    You wrote:

    “According to the ETECSA spokesman, in 2010, some gringo companies located in Florida were authorised by the Obama government to negotiate with Cuba to recommission an old unused underwater cable”.

    Other than your anonymous source, is there evidence of this authorization?

    Also, a small correction:

    The first Internet connection was in 1996, not 1998, and the bandwidth comparison was to a small state university (mine) in Los Angeles, not New York:


  2. omar fundora
    March 18, 2014 at 10:49 pm

    Timeline for the Ukrainian Crisis

    (today they killed an Ukrainian soldier in the Crimea that was guarding a truck depot. He refused to surrender to Russian soldiers (unidentified soldiers according to the press). Putin yesterday signed the annexation of Crimea to Russia…

    Ukraine has accused Russia of staging an “armed invasion” of its Crimea Peninsula after unidentified pro-Moscow gunmen appeared on the streets of the region.

    The development comes after Ukraine’s new government, which came to power after the removal of President Viktor Yanukovich through deadly anti-government protests, has called for fresh presidential elections on May 25. The move has been countered by the Crimea administration that has announced plans for a referendum on the same date to decide on the region’s future.

    As the government in Kiev continues to emphasise the need for a united Ukraine, here is a timeline of some of the events that have led to the current situation.

    Nov 21: Yanukovich announces abandonment of a trade agreement with the EU, seeking closer ties with Moscow.

    Nov 30: Public support grows for pro-EU anti-government protesters as images of them bloodied by police crackdown spread online and in the media.

    Dec 1: About 300,000 people protest in Kiev’s Independence Square. The City Hall is seized by activists.

    Jan 16: Anti-protest laws are passed and quickly condemned as “draconian”.

    Dec 17: Russian President Vladimir Putin announces plans to buy $15bn in Ukrainian government bonds and a cut in cost of Russia’s natural gas for Ukraine.

    Jan 22: Two protesters die after being hit with live ammunition. A third dies following a fall during confrontation with police.

    Jan 28: Mykola Azarov resigns as Ukraine’s prime minister and the parliament repeals anti-protest laws that caused the demonstrations to escalate in the first place.

    Jan 29: A bill is passed, promising amnesty for arrested protesters if seized government buildings are relinquished.

    Jan 31: Opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov found outside Kiev after being imprisoned and tortured for eight days, apparently at the hands of a pro-Russian group.

    Feb 16: Opposition activists end occupation of Kiev City Hall. In exchange 234 jailed protesters are released.

    Feb 18: More street clashes leave at least 18 dead and around a hundred injured. Violence begins when protesters attack police lines after the parliament stalls in passing constitutional reform to limit presidential powers. Protesters take back government buildings.

    Feb 20: Violence resumes within hours of a truce being announced. Government snipers shoot protesters from rooftops leading to deadliest day of the crisis so far with over 70 deaths.

    Feb 21: Protest leaders, the political opposition and Yanukovich agree to form a new government and hold early elections. Yanukovich’s powers are slashed. The parliament votes to free Yulia Tymoshenko, the former prime minister, from prison. Yanukovich flees Kiev after protesters take control of the capital.

    Feb 22: Ukraine politicians vote to remove Yanikovich. Tymoshenko is freed from prison and speaks to those gathered in Kiev. May 25 is set for fresh presidential elections.

    Feb 23: Ukraine’s parliament assigns presidential powers to its new speaker, Oleksandr Turchinov, an ally of Tymoshenko. Pro-Russian protesters rally in Crimea against the new Kiev administration.

    Feb 24: Ukraine’s interim government draws up a warrant for Yanukovich’s arrest.

    Feb 25: Pro-Russian Aleksey Chaly is appointed Sevastopol’s de facto mayor as rallies in Crimea continue.

    Feb 26: Crimean Tartars supporting the new Kiev administration clash with pro-Russia protesters in the region. Potential members of the new Ukrainian government appear before crowds in Independence Square. Turchinov announces disbanding of Berkut – the feared riot police. Russian troops near border with Ukraine are put on alert and drilled for “combat readiness”.

    Feb 27: Pro-Kremlin armed men seize government buildings in Crimea. Ukraine government vows to prevent a country break-up as Crimean parliament set May 25 as the date for referendum on region’s status. Yanukovich is granted refuge in Russia

    Feb 28: Armed men in unmarked combat fatigues seize Simferopol international airport and a military airfield in Sevestopol. The Ukrainian government accuses Russia of aggression. UN Security Council holds an emergency closed-door session to discuss the situation in Crimea. The US warns Russia of militarily intervening in Ukraine.

    Moscow says military movements in Crimea are in line with previous agreements to protect its fleet position in the Black Sea. Yanukovich makes his first public appearance, in southern Russia.

    March 1: As situation worsens in Crimea, local leaders ask for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help. Russian upper house of the parliament approves a request by Putin to use military power in Ukraine.

    March 2: A convoy of hundreds of Russian troops heads towards the regional capital of Ukraine’s Crimea region, a day after Russia’s forces takes over the strategic Black Sea peninsula without firing a shot. Arseny Yatsenyuk, Ukraine’s new prime minister, says his country is on the “brink of disaster” and accuses Russia of declaring war on his country.

    March 3: NATO says Moscow is threatening peace and security in Europe – claims Russia says will not help stabilise the situation. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet tells Ukrainian navy in Sevastopol in Crimea to surrender or face a military assault.

    March 4: In his first public reaction to the crisis in Ukraine, Putin says his country reserves the right to use all means to protect its citizens in eastern Ukraine. Russian forces fire warning shots on unarmed Ukrainian soldiers marching towards an airbase in Sevastopol.

    March 5: US Secretary of State John Kerry seeks to arrange a face-to-face meeting between Russian and Ukrainian foreign ministers. However, Sergey Lavrov refuses to talk to his Ukrainian counterpart, Andriy Deshchytsia. Meanwhile, NATO announces a full review of its cooperation with Russia. OSCE sends 35 unarmed military personnel to Ukraine for “providing an objective assessment of facts on the ground.”

    March 6: US announces visa restrictions on Russians and Ukraine’s Crimeans who it says are “threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Meanwhile, Crimea’s parliament votes unanimously in favour of joining Russia. Hours later, the city council of Sevastopol in Crimea announces joining Russia immediately.

    March 7: Ukraine offers talks with Russia over Crimea, but on the condition that the Kremlin withdraw troops from the autonomous republic. Meanwhile, top Russian politicians meet Crimea’s delegation with standing ovation and express their support for the region’s aspirations of joining Russia.

    March 8: Warning shots are fired to prevent an unarmed international military observer mission from entering Crimea. Russian forces become increasingly aggressive towards Ukrainian troops trapped in bases.

    March 9: Yatsenyuk vows Ukraine would not give “an inch” of its territory to Russia during a rally celebrating 200 years since the birth of national hero and poet Taras Shevchenko as rival rallies in Sevastopol lead to violence.

    March 10: NATO announces it will start reconnaissance flights over Poland and Romania to monitor the situation in neighbouring Ukraine where Russian forces have taken control of Crimea.

    March 11: The EU proposes a package of trade liberalisation measures to support Ukraine’s economy. Crimean regional parliament adopts a “declaration of independence”.

    March 12: Obama meets with Yatsenyuk at the White House in a show of support for the new Ukrainian government and declares the US would “completely reject” the Crimea referendum.

    March 13: German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns Moscow of potentially “massive” long-term economic and political damage. Ukraine mobilises a volunteer “Home Guard”. Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Czhemilev calls for a referendum boycott and NATO intervention to avert a “massacre”.

    March 14: Diplomatic efforts before the referendum fails in London, where Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with US counterpart John Kerry amid threats of sanctions against Russia if it annexes Crimea.

    March 15: UN Security Council members vote overwhelmingly in support of a draft resolution condemning an upcoming referendum on the future of Crimea as illegal. Russia vetoed the action and China abstained. It comes as a report claims Russian troops had landed on a strip of land in the southeast between Crimea and the mainland.

    March 16: Partial results from Crimea’s referendum show 95 percent of voters support union with Russia, according to Russian state news agency RIA.

  3. omar fundora
    March 18, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Here are the key developments in Turkey, in the grip of an escalating political crisis since mid-December:


    – December 17: Turkish police detain dozens of people close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of an investigation into bribery in construction projects, gold smuggling and alleged illicit money transfers to Iran.

    Those detained include the sons of the interior, economy and environment ministers and the head of state bank Halkbank.

    – December 18: Erdogan calls the probe a “dirty” operation to smear his government, blaming followers of US-exiled Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally of his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

    Erdogan says those behind the raids are acting like a “state within a state”. Gulen has many supporters in the police and the judiciary.

    – More than 100 police chiefs are sacked, including the Istanbul police chief, for “abusing their power”.
    The main opposition party calls for Erdogan to resign.

    – December 22: Thousands join anti-government demonstrations in Istanbul. Erdogan threatens to “break those hands” that use the corruption scandal to oppose him.

    – December 25: Erdogan announces a cabinet reshuffle, replacing almost half his key ministers after three resigned.
    – Thousands demonstrate in Istanbul, Ankara and the western port city of Izmir to demand Erdogan’s resignation.

    – December 26: A state prosecutor says “clear pressure” from other prosecutors and police stymied more arrests including Erdogan’s son.


    – January 2: The lira hits a new low against the dollar, shares also drop.

    – The military demands a retrial for army officers convicted of plotting to topple the government, alleging fabricated evidence. Erdogan, who had sought to clip the wings of the military, later says he favours retrials.

    – January 7: The government fires 350 more police in Ankara, including heads of major departments. The following day the deputy national security chief becomes the biggest head to roll.

    – January 10: A parliament committee begins to debate a controversial bill aimed at curbing the powers of the top independent judicial body.

    – January 14: Police conduct raids against Al-Qaeda in several cities and target the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), an Islamic charity close to the government accused of sending arms to Syrian rebels.

    – January 15: Erdogan declares open war on an “empire of fear” he says is being created by Gulen loyalists.

    – January 16: Authorities reassign 20 more senior prosecutors.

    – January 17: Erdogan rejects allegations his son is involved in the corruption scandal.

    – January 18: Local media say the purge of police and prosecutors has extended to the banking and telecoms sectors and to state television.

    – January 21: Erdogan holds talks in Brussels to advance Turkey’s EU push.
    – The lira hits a record low of 2.26 to the dollar after the central bank holds key interest rates unchanged. – Full parliament starts debating judicial reforms.

    – January 22: Almost 100 prosecutors and judges are removed from their posts while 470 police are sacked or reassigned in Ankara.

  1. March 18, 2014 at 7:29 am

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