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WiFi Trickling Into Cuba

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By Patty Vila, SouthFloridaReporter.com, Cuba Expert, Oct. 19, 2015 – This past summer on my most recent trip to Havana, Cuba, as my driver drove  to all my favorite spots, one place that quickly caught my attention was at “L” and “23” Street. This was probably the part of town that I spent the most amount of time in while I lived in Havana. This area is known as La Rampa. In English it is known as the Ramp.

This area is quickly becoming one of the hotspots for WIFI connectivity. The Cubans call it (We Fi) I asked my driver to drive me around the Havana Libre Hotel formerly known as the Havana Hilton three times so I could see Cubans of all ages using their cell phones, tablets and laptops. I was happy at first then thought we still have a long way to go.

At the present moment La Rampa is one of five places in Havana and 35 in Cuba overall where public WIFI exist. Cuba has had the worst internet access in the Western Hemisphere. The reason why Cuba expanded internet service in the country is because they told the U.S. they would during the negotiations to reestablish bilateral relations.

Before Cubans on the island were able to use Wifi locations the internet access had been limited to largely desktops at state parlors and hotels. Let me be clear. Only 3.4 percent of Cubans homes have internet access. And Facebook clearly dominates over Twitter.

More needs to be done but this is a start according to Tony Martinez, a founding partner of Cuban Strategic Partnerships. “Cuba will take its time to develop and expand its internet services despite the popular demand. Think gradual and methodical in terms of access. Unfortunately for American
telecoms, there are two obstacles, the Embargo and a distrust of the U.S. government on the belief telecommunications will be used to provoke unrest in Cuba. Cuba is not likely going to do substantial business with us until the Embargo is lifted. So there is both serious lobbying and trust building to be done by American telecoms. This places our competition, China, with an
advantage. The Chinese are getting the internet access building contracts at the moment.”