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Cuba approves its first free public WiFi

Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
March 15, 2015
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Public internet access in Cuba usually comes at a steep price -- a local may have to use a week's wages just to spend an hour emailing their family overseas. However, they now have a much, much more reasonable option. The country's state-run telecom, ETECSA, recently approved the country's first free public WiFi. Cubans who can reach a cultural center in Havana can now use the shared DSL line of a well-known artist (Kcho) as much as they want. The 2Mbps connection is pokey by most standards, but the no-cost approach means that locals don't have to give up what spending power they have just to get online.

Don't expect these hotspots to pop up in other areas, at least not yet. The hotspot is only available because Kcho volunteered to leave his WiFi open, and his closeness to the Cuban government gave him an edge in negotiations that others probably wouldn't have. All the same, it's a big step for a nation where internet access is rare even in public, let alone at home -- many residents could get a first taste of Netflix and other services that you probably take for granted.

[Image credit: AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa]

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