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Cuba Increases Internet Access From Designated Public Centers

Cuba opened 118 browsing centers to increase Internet access points on the island. Called Nauta, the service can be requested at any Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) commercial unit that has partnered with the program.

Nevertheless, the opening of these public centers of Internet connection on June 4 has not been exempt from controversy. According to Resolution 182/2013 of the Ministry of Finance and Price [es], the service will cost 0.60 (US$.60) cuc per hour for national browsing, 1.50 ( (US$1.50) for international email, and 4.50 (US$4.50) cuc for complete access to the Internet and all of its services.

Tarjeta Nauta para el acceso a Internet. (Foto: Cubadebate)

Nauta card for Internet Access. (Photo: Cubadebate)

These prices have been considered excessive by some Cuban bloggers, like Alejo3399, who points out [es]:

Mientras 1 hora de conexión cueste casi 5 dólares, será el dinero quien diga quién se conecta y quién no. Y dudo que alguien, por nuevo rico y adinerado que sea, pueda hacer un uso recreativo de la nueva oportunidad.

While 1 hour of connectivity costs almost 5 dollars, it will be money that dictates who can connect and who cannot. And I doubt that someone, despite how newly rich and wealthy he or she may be, can make recreational use of this new opportunity.

On this topic, Alejo3399 adds [es]:

Se aduce que las desmesuradas tarifas que tendrá el servicio (lo cual se reconoce autocríticamente como si eso resolviera algo) responden a la débil infraestructura de telecomunicaciones del país, y se sugiere con sutileza que esas tarifas privilegian a la navegación nacional para educar a la gente en el consumo de lo propio.

They claim that the excessive fees that the service (which is self-critically recognized as if that were to resolve anything) respond to the country's weak telecommunications infrastructure, and they subtly suggest that these fees grant privilege to national browsing to educate people in its consumption.

Nonetheless, an article [es] published by Aurelio Pedro in Progreso Semanal says:

Internet ante la posibilidad de acceso al simple ciudadano era una cuenta pendiente, de amplio reclamo de la ciudadanía. Los responsables de esta operación reconocen lo elevado de las tarifas y han prometido que cuando las condiciones económicas lo propicien, bajarlas.

Internet and the possibility of access to the simple citizen was a pending issue, a broad citizen demand. Those responsible for this operation recognized how elevated the fees are, and they have promised that when economic conditions permit, they will decrease them.

The first Nauta users have shared their experiences on social networks. Mayle González recount [es] her experience:

Subir 5 minutos de video en La Habana aunque seas un usuario Nauta puede llevarte 6 horas de trabajo…

Uploading 5 minutes of video in Havana even if you're a Nauta user can cost you 6 hours of work…

According to Siomel Savio Odriozola [es],

Usando una hora semanal de Internet se te van 18 cuc al mes casi el 75 % del salario promedio. Definitivamente la bolsa negra se convertirá en un “Hueco negro”. Contemos los meses o años que demorarán en bajar los precios como ha pasado paulatinamente con la telefonía celular…

Using an hour of Internet a week costs you 18 cuc per month, almost 75% of the average salary. The black bag will soon become a “black hole.” Let's count the months or years it will take to lower the prices like it gradually happened with cell phones…

Cuba maintains a social Internet access policy that promotes connectivity to the web freely from university, academic, and scientific centers, mostly. In May 2013, the Vice Minister of Information Technology and Communications declared [es] to the state-run daily Granma that “it will not be the market that regulates access to knowledge.” For the time being, the only thing left to do is hope that the fees gradually decrease, and that getting the service from private homes is permitted.

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