WiFi in Cuba

Internet has come slowly to Cuba. Until 3 years ago, there were only dial up modems that an Airbnb host said sometimes took 30 min to an hour to load a page. Now there is WiFi, but it is only offered by a government agency, ETECSA, in certain public areas. To access it, you need to buy WiFi cards that cost $1/hour for Cubans and foreigners alike.

It looks like there are other WiFi connections available, but these are in reality homeowners or business owners who have purchased antennas to siphon off the same ETECSA WiFi. You still need to buy a card to use it, so the government doesn’t care.

Though WiFi is accessible, Cubans still cannot fully take advantage of it. They cannot buy domains and make their own websites; if a business has a website, it is made with the help of friends or family outside Cuba.

And with few credit cards and none that work outside Cuba, there is no online shopping. The same Airbnb host is now able to watch cooking YouTube videos at home thanks to increased WiFi speeds and an antennae, but she cannot buy the cooking implements that the videos recommend on Amazon. Step by step, she says, step by step. But she hopes – ojalá – that the steps can come faster.

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