After steadily building up a 3G network throughout the country, Cuba announced that it will soon grant full internet access to its citizens, according to the Associated Press. The network is currently only available to select tourists, Cuban government officials, and foreign businesspeople, but this new announcement will make Cuba one of the last countries to provide internet access countrywide.
Mayra Arevich, president of the Cuban state telecom monopoly ETECSA, made the announcement last Tuesday on national television, permitting Cubans to contract 3G service. Citizens were previously only able to stay virtually connected through state-run email accounts, wi-fi hotspots in public spaces, and home internet, which was authorized in 2017.
Cuba had existed as a uniquely isolated country over the almost century-long rule of Fidel Castro, making Cuba fall behind significantly in the adoption of 21st century technologies. His brother and successor, Raul Castro opened up negotiations with the American government and came to an agreement with Barack Obama in 2014 that re-established relations between the two countries.
Cuba’s economy long-relied on Venezuelan oil, but as president Hugo Chavez’s health declines, Cuba has become more apt to find new ways of developing their economy. A new leader and the dissolution of Cold War animosity has moved the country away from their isolationist tendencies, showing signs of participating in global matters.
The new service will cost about 10 cents per megabyte, with packages ranging from 600 megabytes for about $7 to four gigabytes for about $30, which are typically in line with global standards. Services will not necessarily be widely accessible, however, as many Cubans live off as little as $30 a month.
Though mostly uncensored, the government will block select sites like U.S.-funded Radio and Television Marti networks and other media entities that advocate for systematic change in Cuba. THe services are being gradually rolled out to avoid congestion and failure, according to ETECSA vice president Tania Velázquez.