BY: LUIZ MIRANDA
Cuba currently faces many changes due to the recent easing by the United States of its strict Embargo with Cuba. One of these changes relates to the current availability and performance of the country’s internet access.
Americans in the United States have come to enjoy widely available internet access. According to the United States Census Bureau, “[i]n 2013, 74.4 percent of all [American] households reported Internet use, with 73.4 percent reporting a highspeed connection.” For the small number of households that do not have internet at home, internet access is widely available via mobile devices, at work, and in public spaces such as libraries and cafes.
On the other hand, data from the International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency, shows that “[o]nly 3.4% of Cuban homes are connected, and most of those have intranet, not internet.” Intranet means a private local or restricted communications network. This results in Cuba having one “of the lowest internet usage rates in the world with very little home broadband service and extremely high rates for foreigners and a tiny number of homes and businesses which are allowed to be wired.”
In February 2011, the Venezuela-financed ALBA-1 cable was completed. The ALBA-1 was “[a]n undersea fiber-optic cable that promise[d] to bring Cuban Internet and phone communications into the 21st Century.” When fully operational, the cable has the potential to provide Cuba with widespread high-speed internet access. It is reported that the fiber-optic cable “stir[red] to life” in 2013, however, the envisioned internet revolution in Cuba has yet to come to fruition, although some progress has been made. For example, in 2015, Cuba announced it would offer Wi-Fi at 35 public spaces for the very first time. This marked “the first such offering for the population at large, whose web access has been mostly limited to desktop rentals in state-owned internet parlors.” Cuban officials noted that there is an increased demand for better internet access in the country, and this is a step towards addressing the issue.
Still, one factor that exacerbates the problem of limited internet access in the Cuba is the United States embargo. The United States actually restricts worldwide internet access in Cuba “by the U.S peut on prendre viagra. government’s sponsorship of reverse filtering, which encourages Web sites to prevent access from Cuba and other countries.” However, with the Obama administration’s 2014 announcement to re-establish relations in Cuba, and with the embargo easements and increased positive relations between the two countries that have taken place throughout 2015, Cuba may finally make the strides necessary to bring its internet and phone communications into 21st Century standards.
Therefore, the decision about whether Cuba’s internet usage remains one of the lowest in the world or not will increasingly lie more solely within the wishes of the government of Cuba.