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Havana, Jun 22 (EFE).- Cuba's state-run telecom company ETECSA plans to begin offering in-home Internet connections by late 2014, a director of the company told Efe.
"We're thinking of reaching homes with ADSL technology. We're trying to drop telephone access, since besides its poor quality, the telephone network is not designed for this kind of access," Jorge Legra, ETECSA director of strategic programs, said.
"We could be talking about the last quarter of 2014," Legra said, adding that the service will first be available in areas of the country that have the right technical facilities to make the connection.
In Cuba, with its 15 percent Internet access, the vast majority of inhabitants cannot go online at home, a privilege reserved for professionals like doctors, journalists, academics, intellectuals and artists.
The island government grants "social" Internet use at certain public establishments, and has traditionally blamed access problems on the U.S. embargo, a policy that forces Cuba to access the Web through a satellite connection that makes it all very slow and expensive.
However, since an undersea fiber-optic cable linking the communist-ruled island with Venezuela and Jamaica was activated in 2011, Cuba's government has proceeded to increase the number of public places with online access and to expand services.
On June 14, 118 new Internet establishments were opened in the country where, through the national portal Nauta, permanent or temporary accounts were made available for e-mail access, online navigating and other services.
The cost of these services is, however, extremely high for a Cuban's budget. In a country where the average monthly wage is less than $20, an hour online at an Internet establishment costs 4.5 convertible pesos (CUC, the stronger currency of the two circulating in Cuba and the equivalent of $1.00).
The ETECSA director of strategic programs acknowledged to Efe that the chief concern of users is the high price of these services, and said the intention is to gradually make the rate more affordable.