Cuba to become one of last states to launch full internet access on mobile phones

Citizens of one of the Western Hemisphere’s least connected countries, Cuba, will now be able to access the internet via their mobile phones. Mayra Arevich, President of the state telecommunications service provider ETECSA announced this long-awaited service on television Tuesday evening. 

The cost will be out of reach for many Cubans as the average state wage is around $30 (£23) per month, and many people rely on remittances from relatives abroad or side gigs to get by.

Price packages unveiled put 4GB of data at $30.

Since 2017, Cubans have only been able to access the internet online by means of fixed home WiFi connections. Nearly 50 per cent of the Caribbean island’s 11.2 million residents have cellphones, but many know they will not be able to afford the data packages announced. 

Mr Montiel, Havana Resident told ABC News: "It was about time this became a possibility for Cubans too. But for some, like me, it’s still a remote one". 

Since Mr Montiel’s wage is less than $20 per month as a salesman in a state company, he will be unable to purchase a cellphone with 3G technology. 

Cuba has fallen behind the majority of countries in web access, whether it be because of the expense for ordinary citizens, a long-running US trade embargo or fears about the flow of information. 

It was only until 2013 that the internet was widely available to the public at tourist hotels on the island. Since president Miguel Diaz-Canel succeeded Raul Castro, the government has made an effort to boost connectivity and introduce cybercafes since 2015, with outdoor hotspots beginning to hook up homes to the web. 


Mr Guillermo Diaz often retreats to his WiFi hotspot in a park near home to video chat with family members, who have emigrated to the United States. He said, "It will be good to be able to connect to the web with greater comfort". 

Braving bugs and a lack of privacy, Cubans who are fortunate enough to afford the net leave their homes and head to public hotspots.

Ms Velazquez, ETECSA vice president, said the company would be rolling out the service over several days to avoid the network congestion that occurred during mobile internet testing earlier this year. She also added that access to state-run applications and websites like Ecured, a Cuban Wikipedia, would be significantly cheaper than access to the worldwide web.

However, many Cubans have come forward and complained about their mobile phones failing to make calls or send text messages during the tests. 

Mr Rodriguez, one of the editors of YucaByte, a Cuban media outlet on telecoms said: "The quality of service will be a key factor during the roll out of mobile internet". 

Mr Diaz-Canel started a Twitter account in October, and many government officials have since followed suit.