Internet Slowly Comes to Cuba

 

The Internet is spreading across Cuba, but at a slow pace. Up to now Internet access and other modern forms of communication have not been widespread on the Communist island.

Even though most people have smartphones, they can only use them to make calls, not to log on to social media sites like Facebook and TwitterPublic access to the Internet is limited to a few parks and some hotels. Very few people, mostly rich government officials and businessmen have Internet access at home.

However, since the United States and Cuba have agreed to normalize relations things have improvedRecently, the government in Havanna has announced that it was rolling out broadband Internet access in the capital. More and more WiFi access points are being set up across Cuba's largest city. This comes at a time when  business travellers and tourists are coming to Cuba in large numbers.

Cubans are desperately wanting to connect with the outside world. The Communist country has one of the world's lowest internet access rates. Only 10 - 20% of Cuban citizens have any type of access to the Internet. Only about 150 000 Cubans use the 58 wireless access points across the island every day.

Because of high prices, it is a luxury only few can afford. While Internet cafés have started to lower their prices, an hour still costs about $2 an hour, a tenth of the average monthly salary.

 

The government's aim is to connect 50% of all homes and 90% of businesses to broadband internet by 2020. It has already signed contracts with foreign companies. Havana's fibre-optic cables will be supplied by Chinese electronics giant Huawei.

 

WLAN hotspot in Havanna, Cuba

People using their phones to access the internet at a wireless access point in Havanna - Image: Othmar Kyas

 

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Words

  • access = here: to log on to a computer and browse the Internet
  • access point = small box that allows computers to be connected with each other without using wires or cables
  • agree = when two people or countries say that they want to do something
  • aim = plan
  • announce= to say officially
  • average = normal
  • broadband = high-speed, very fast
  • business = company
  • capital =most important city in a country; where the government is
  • citizen = person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • connect = join
  • contract = written agreement between two people or companies
  • desperately = very much
  • even though = despite, while
  • fibre-optic = cable with very thin plastic or glass wires  through which light can travel very quickly; it is used in phone, internet and television systems
  • foreign = from another country
  • giant = here: very large company
  • government = the people who rule the country
  • however = but
  • improve = to make better
  • limited = only a small number
  • log on = to open up an internet page and type in your name and password
  • lower = to make lower
  • luxury = something that you cannot afford because it is too expensive
  • normalize = to make something normal again
  • official = person in a high position in the government
  • pace = speed
  • public = here: for everyone to use
  • recently = only a short time ago
  • roll out = here: to make something available for the first time
  • salary = the money you get for working ; normally paid every month
  • set up = to prepare something in order to be used
  • sign = to put your name on a document
  • social media = websites and apps that let people communicate with each other, share information and pictures
  • spread = here: expand, move across the island
  • supply = here: build
  • tenth = 10 %
  • widespread = common, popular
  • WiFi = wireless