Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cuba 'to offer' limited public internet access

28 May 2013 Last updated at 20:15 GMT

Cuba 'to offer' limited public internet access

The government of Cuba has said it will soon expand public access to the
internet, although it will maintain restrictions for access at home.

It said that 118 internet points would be set up on the Caribbean island
from 4 June, to allow web surfing for $4.5 (£3) an hour.

Cuba's average salary is $20 a month, and it has one of the lowest
levels of internet access in the world.

Most Cubans can connect only at work, at school, or in luxury hotels.
Traffic will be monitored

The easing of restrictions was published in the official paper, Gaceta

It said that member of the public will be able to access international
websites for $4.5 (£3) an hour - down from $6 - or $0.6 (£0.4) an hour
for national sites.

The cost for checking emails will remain unchanged at $1.50 (£1).

The government also reaffirmed that it would continue monitoring
internet traffic closely.

Cuba's telecommunications company, Etecsa, will "immediately" stop
access to users if they commit "any violation of the norms of ethical
behaviour promoted by the Cuban state", the Ministry of Communications
said in its government decree.

Only some professionals, like journalists and doctors, are allowed to
surf the internet at home.

Most Cubans, however, can get online only in their places of work or
study, or check their email at post offices.

They can also use internet points in hotels which mostly cater to
international tourists.
Slow connection

Up until recently, Cuba relied upon slow and expensive satellite links
for internet connections.

But in January, Etecsa announced it would start using an under-sea
fibre-optic cable from Venezuela that would provide high-speed internet

The Communist-led government has blamed limited bandwidth for
restricting web access, saying it is forced to prioritise it for
universities, companies and research centres.

But critics have accused the government of wanting to censor free speech
and control access to information.

On her Twitter account, dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez said that "it
will take time to get internet at home, but I'm sure it will come... and
this will hurt (the government)."

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