Monday, February 24, 2014

The Internet Isn’t Eaten, But it Feeds

The Internet Isn't Eaten, But it Feeds / Agusto Cesar San Martin
Posted on February 24, 2014

HAVANA, Cuba – In the first half of the year the ironic character of the
restoration of some of the people's rights will be perfected with
Internet for cellphones. Cubans will have access to the network from our
cells, in proportions equal to the costs of unattainable hotels, real
estate and cars.

The government announcedthat the cost of activating the service will
cost 5.40 CUC. The cost exceeds the 4.50 CUC Cubans have topay for the
same concept to connect to the Internet in one of the navigation rooms.

In its 54th edition of 11 November 2013, the Official Gazette of the
Republic of Cuba established official service prices. Every Kb
downloaded will cost 0.0005 CUC, which is 5,000 CUC (125,000 Cuban
pesos, more than $5,000 USD) per gigabyte.

El servicio que ofrecerá la única Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba
(ETECSA), no solo inspira en los cubanos la crítica negativa de los
precios. Existen dudas sobre la afirmación oficial de que el servicio
multiplicara el ancho de banda y alcanzara velocidades semejantes al
resto del mundo. La desconfianza de un servicio óptimo se sustenta en la
tecnología GPRS instalada en el país que ajusta la capacidad hasta 2
Mb.Un ex funcionario de ETECSA, que solicitó omitir su nombre y
profesión, explicó al

The service offered by Cuba's only Telecommunications Company (ETECSA),
not only inspires negative critiques of the prices. There are doubts
about the official statement that the bandwidth and speeds will match
those of the rest of the world. The lack of confidence in an optimal
service is based on the GPRS technology installed in the country that
adjusts the capacity up to 2 Mb.

An ex ETECSA officia, who asked me not to mention his name explained,
"If you have 2 Mb in optimal conditions (which he clarified there never
are) and three people connect with you to the GPRS, and you divide 2 MB
by 4, you have 500 Kb. A low bandwidth because what the towers permit
is very limited."

"You have a 4G phone in Cuba and the most you can get is 2 Mb because
the cellphone transmission system is GPRS," he adds. To the specialist,
the service announced is not only limited, it's one more highway robbery
of the user.

"In Italy the LTE norm of 100 Mb costs a flat fee of 30 euros. At that
price you can download whatever you want simultaneously," and he added.
"To install LTE in Cuba, they have to change the antennas, the base
radio, the central…"

Terrifying prices

To inquire about rated we talked to ETECSA's office of commercial
information. The official identified as Lucia alleged she had no
information about it. For her, the topic is an unknown.

"… We have no information for the user about what is going to happen in
the future, nor when it could be (the Internet) for cellphones… Martha,
Lucia's supervisor, explained that there is still no "guidance" to
explain to the users about the information offered by the Official
Gazette and the Round Table on television."

ETECSA sources unofficially revealed that the prices announced by the
government could be open to discussion. For Cubans to download a page of
1 Mb could cost 5.12 CUC, perhaps a few cents less if it's HTML, just
text. A modest volume of downloads of 10 Mb a month would cost 51.20 CUC
(1,280 Cuban pesos).

Robbing the poor

The disinterest and ignorance of people about a service that they can't
afford makes it hard to talk to them about it on the street. In a four
of the so-called cellphone clinics visited, those present were unaware
of the details published about our new service.

Raul, a sports teacher, referring to the prices announced for cellular
Internet, said, "They remove the prohibitions from the legal point of
view and establish them from the economic side."

A Chinese tourist named Kwang, said that in his country there were plans
for contracting Internet service on a cellphone. He added that he pays 7
dollars (42 yuan) a month for the service. "I never focus on the
kilobytes I download, I just have it," said the foreigner.

Josvany, 24, who sells TV antennas in the street, explained his
interpretation of the prices based on what people are saying in the
street. "You put 25 CUC into an account, and in four months you have to
recharge it even though you haven't spent it." According to the young
man the recharges are made from abroad.

With prices so far from people's reality, the government returns
services that have been prohibited for years. The right of Cubans to
stay at hotels on the island, to have a cellphone, to sell their
property (houses and cars), and the Internet, to mention a few.

In this respect, Osvaldo, an unemployed restaurant worker, summarized in
his opinion, that of the people. "They can't eat cars or the Internet.
They have to start lowering the price of food… They (the government)
want to fill their pockets with the poverty of the people."

Cubanet, 20 February 2014 | Augusto Cesar San Martin

Source: The Internet Isn't Eaten, But it Feeds / Agusto Cesar San Martin
| Translating Cuba -

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