Cubans will soon get internet service at home

Cuba is launching its first home broadband service that will allow a limited number of ordinary Cubans to access the internet desde su casa.

Cuba’s state telecommunications company, ETECSA, said it plans to start a pilot project that would allow Cubans living in two Havana neighborhoods to get home internet, which will be operated by Chinese telecom company Huawei.

Bars, restaurants and cafes will also soon be able to request the WiFi service, according to Cuba’s state-run media.

The announcement is the latest sign that Cuba, one of the world’s least connected countries, is gradually moving to get online. Cubans were first allowed to access broadband internet last year when the government opened dozens of state-sanctioned public WiFi hotspots. Cubans fully embraced the new internet access, flocking to the so-called puntos wifi with their smartphones, tablets, laptops, headsets and chargers.

People surf the internet in the San Rafael Avenue in central Havana using the Wi-Fi network provided by the Cuban state. Photo by Desmond BoylanDesmond Boylan

Odalys Rodriguez del Toro, a ETECSA director for Havana, said the company plans to open an additional 30 WiFi spots in Havana this year. It’s still not clear if any others are planned in outlying cities around the country.

Currently only diplomats and employees of foreign companies are allowed to have home broadband connections. According to The Associated Press, some Cubans have insanely slow dial-up home service or mobile phone connections which are strictly limited to accessing state-run email.

Del Toro did not say when the new home broadband internet will be available, or how much it will cost.

For Cubans getting online is expensive. Internet access at WiFi hotspots costs around $2 an hour, or about a tent of the average monthly salary in Cuba.