The mobile web in Castro’s Cuba: More access, less affordable

Luis Felipe Rojas in Martí News:

Mobile web: more access, less affordable

Internet on mobile phones in Cuba

The Cuban government has set the rates of mobile phone Internet services on the island, according to Resolution No. 8/2014 of the Ministry of Communications, according to Cuba’s Gaceta Oficial.

Rates are listed in convertible pesos. The price is 1 CUC per transferred megabyte and is advertised as a measure that “allows use by a larger audience at a lower cost,” without detailing how many people would benefit from the service. It is also reported that activation of the service is priced at 5.40 CUC, which is about 130 Cuban pesos.

Editors at La Singularidad, a portal dedicated to circumvent Internet censorship in Cuba, say that “a mobile web customer uses 2 to 5 gigabytes per month. If you only use email without downloading videos or heavy web page, you could hardly reduce this share to about 200 or 300 megabytes per month.” Even that smaller number would be an unaffordable expense for any Cuban of average salary.

For Walfrido Lopez, a blogger specializing in new technologies and their application in the island, “it’s like trying to drive a Ferrari down an embankment,” indicating that Cuba does not have sufficient technological support to implement such services.

“There is no infrastructure here to support this. For example, Valentine’s Day, the network gives you a message that says, ‘Network Busy.’ What do you think about that? Something as simple as sending an SMS on one day. For New Year’s, the network collapses too,” says Lopez.

The contract rates also include the configuration of the terminal equipment sold by ETECSA.

Although no restrictions are announced and the service is extended to all individuals, Lopez insists that “… a scientist, a doctor living on 500 or 600 pesos, they can’t be thinking about the internet . Either buy a Peugeot or surf the Internet,” concludes Lopez, referring to the high price that the government set for the sale of new cars in Cuba.