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Cuba's renewed US relations will bring internet upgrades

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It would be an understatement to call Cuba's existing telecoms modest -- roughly five percent of residents have internet access, and cellphone access is pricey at best. The US may just turn that situation around through its new deal with Cuba, though. As part of the warmer relations, American internet and phone carriers are allowed to set up shop in the Caribbean nation. Companies will also have permission to export devices and apps that help Cubans get in touch with the rest of the world.

There's a definite commercial incentive to letting American providers reach an untapped market, but the move could also be important for free speech in Cuba. The more locals get online or on the phone, the better their access to "alternative sources of information," as the White House puts it. They won't have to turn to guerrilla news outlets or specially-built social networks to express themselves freely. There's a real possibility that American telcos will have to accept onerous government restrictions to operate in the country, but the new policy is still good news for Cubans who previously had few if any choices for digital communication.

[Image credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images]

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