News and Facts about Cuba

Cubans go to extremes to get online

Cubans go to extremes to get online
3:42 PM Monday Dec 8, 2014

Wi-fi passwords are highly coveted in Cuba, where only 3.4 per cent of
households have connections. Photo / Thinkstock
With their smartphones and tablet computers, they look like young people
anywhere in the world.

But these Cubans have to go to extremes just to get an internet
connection and somehow get around the strict control of the Communist
authorities.

In the capital Havana, clusters of young Cubans can be spotted at
weekends in groups near hotels, embassies and business centres in a
desperate attempt to get online – somehow.

Read more: Cuba reforms seen as changing ideals, values

“Some people capture wireless signals after getting the codes from
friends who work here, but I know there are others who manage to crack
passwords with special software,” one computer enthusiast said.

Lurking down a small street abutting a , another strategy is at work.

Several youngsters tap away furiously on their devices – they are online
thanks to a shared connection courtesy of a classmate posted at hotel
reception.

Suffice it to say that in Cuba, wireless signals – or failing that, any
internet connection – are highly coveted.

They are under strict control, reserved for companies, universities and
institutions. A privileged few – journalists, artists and doctors, in
particular – are entitled to a particular connection. And that’s it.

In 2013, only 3.4 per cent of Cuban households were connected to the
internet, according to the International Telecommunication Union, which
rates the connectivity of countries.

Since June last year, the Cuban authorities have gone a small way to
affording the island’s 11.3 million population a rare chance to access
the internet, opening about 100 centres for the public to get online.

But at US$4.50 (NZ$5.90) per hour, rates are prohibitively expensive in
a country where the average monthly wage is about US$20.

Previously, only hotels could offer the internet to the public, but
again with a prohibitive rate of up to US$10 an hour that only foreign
visitors could afford.

– AFP

Source: Cubans go to extremes to get online – World – NZ Herald News –
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11370832&ref=rss

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