Cuba offers 3G mobile internet access to citizens

Cuba’s population is to be offered internet access via a 3G mobile network from later this week.

Telecom provider Etecsa said citizens would be able to start subscribing to the service from Thursday.

Until now, locals have mostly relied on wi-fi hotspots and internet cafes and the 3G service has been restricted to state-employed journalists and foreign businesses among others.

This will change – but many will still be unable to afford the new contracts.

Etecsa’s packages range from a month’s use of 600MB of data for 7CUC ($7; £5.50) to 4GB for 30CUC.

Users get a bonus 300MB use of local .cu domain websites.

But the average state wage for the island’s 11.2 million residents is the equivalent of about $30 per month.

Looser limits

The launch marks a further relaxation of the government’s restrictions on online activity.

Until five years ago, access was largely limited to tourist hotels and state-operated clubs.

But in 2013, the authorities began opening internet cafes.

In 2014, they began allowing mobile phone owners access to the state’s Nauta email service at a charge of 1CUC per megabyte – the price has since fallen to the same charge for 50MB.

In 2015, the first wi-fi hotspot opened at a cultural centre. Hundreds of other public spaces then followed.

And then in 2017, Etecsa began offering a limited number of home connections.

Access to the new 3G service will be rolled out over a three-day period in order to reduce the risk of it being overwhelmed with demand.

The order in which existing subscribers will be invited to join will be determined by the first two digits of their mobile phone number.

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