Better Late Than Never! Cuba Launches First Free Public Wi-Fi Service

While Cuba’s rapidly-warming relationship with the United States is dominating headlines, Cubans are also enjoying some smaller, but important changes. One of those changes is Cuba’s softening of its grip on Internet access. Cubans can now access the Internet through a single free Wi-Fi hotspot.

Until recently, Cuba kept Internet access out of the hands of ordinary Cubans. Government officials had some limited access, but citizens had few options. Cuba recently softened its stance just a little, letting ordinary citizens access the Internet for exorbitant fees, not unlike the characters in Hugh Howey’s “Wool.” 

Cuba is loosening its stance on Internet connectivity for its citizens
Image credit: Google Maps

Now, the Cuban government seems to have loosened its grip even further. A Havana cultural center managed by Cuban artist Kcho is now offering free Wi-Fi to visitors, apparently with the permission of a state-run telecom. Kcho, which likely pays in the neighborhood of $900 a month for this Internet connection, is sharing the access with visitors, who must be willing to overlook the slow 2Mbps speeds so they can connect with family outside Cuba or check out Facebook

“This is an unusual thing, and it’s only possible through the will to do it and absorb the costs,” Kcho said to The Associated Press. “I have something that is great and powerful. I can share it, and I am doing so.”

Visitors have been enjoying the connectivity during the day and some even come at night to get better speeds. Those who don’t have a way to reach Kcho’s center must pay as much as $4.50 an hour at other locations. 

Tags:  Internet, Cuba, wi-fi