Cuba launching internet on cellphones

Cuba Fidel Castro

With a population of more than 11.1 million people, Cuba now has 5.3 million mobile lines and 1.3 million landlines, according to the phone monopoly ETECSA, or the Telecommunications Company of Cuba S.A.

Cuba will begin a roll out of fee-based internet access for mobile phones throughout the island on Thursday, a milestone as the Communist-run country softens its tough stance on individual freedoms.

Andujar said he will use the service to check email and check some information, but he will continue to use Wi-Fi for family conversations by video and other downloads because the prices for the new service are high for Cubans.

That's how it's been for the people of Cuba for more than half a century, even in the last 20 years when the internet began connecting folks from nearly every remote corner of the planet.

The cost will be out of reach for many Cubans as the average state wage is around $30 per month, and many people rely on remittances from relatives overseas or side gigs to get by. "But for some, like me, it's still a remote one".

"It was about time this became a possibility for Cubans too", Havana resident Joaquin Montiel, 58, said.

Raul Castro stepped down as Cuba's president last April.

However the BBC says the cost of the service might be out of reach for many Cubans.

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TRANSLATION: Today, the Ministry of Communications will announce and explain mobile internet service n Mesa Redonda.

The move to improve internet access comes as Cuba's National Assembly considers revisions to the country's new draft constitution, which will be voted on in a national referendum in February.

"We keep advancing in the informatization of the society", President Diaz-Canel said in a tweet Tuesday, the same day of the announcement.

Cuba's government-controlled public internet access from the onset, starting with a limited number of state-run cafes in 2013.

Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in internet access, with a combination of lack of cash, the long-running United States trade embargo and concerns about the flow of information being to blame.

The government authorized home internet in 2017 and public Wi-Fi connection points have opened in about 830 parks and plazas around the country.

The new service is being made available gradually through Saturday depending on a user's phone number, to avoid the congestion that struck Cuba's mobile network during a series of heavily criticized tests this year.

Velazquez also announced that access to state-run applications and websites like Ecured, a Cuban Wikipedia-style site, would be significantly cheaper than access to the World Wide Web.

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