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Posted February 07, 2009 by publisher in Castro's Cuba

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Cuba will continue to limit Internet access even after a fiber optic cable linking the island with Venezuela comes online in 2010, a top official said.

The new cable is 1,550 kilometers (960 miles) long and will dramatically increase the island’s level of connectivity, according to officials.

“We believe that the most responsible policy is to privilege collective access” to the Internet, said Boris Moreno, deputy minister of computer science and communication.

Nevertheless, there is a desire for “larger number of citizens to have Internet access,” technical and economic conditions allowing, Moreno told the daily Juventud Rebelde.

But he warned that the new fiber optic cable “will not necessarily decrease the price the country pays for connection to international networks.”

Because of the US trade embargo, Cuba connects to the Internet via satellite. The government says the limited bandwidth forces them to “prioritize” Internet access for “social use” purposes, with universities, companies and research centers prioritized.

The US embargo bans Cuban access to underwater Internet cables, the closest of which runs from Miami to Cancun, Mexico, a mere 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Havana.

Dissidents say the government’s true goal is to control access to information.

Moreno said Cuba, with a population of around 11.4 million, has 1.4 million Internet users, and that by the end of 2008 there were 630,000 computers, a 23 percent increase over 2007.

In July, the head of the US interest section in Havana, Michael Parmly, said that Washington would allow US companies to connect Cuba to their underwater cables.

“The only thing that is missing is for the Cuban government to lift its restrictions, loose its fear and begin to trust its own people,” he said.

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  1. Follow up post #1 added on February 07, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    I guess that darned Embargo isn’t to blame for Cuba’s lack of internet.

    Also, it would help if there were more than 630,000 computers in the country of 11 million people.

    What a shame.

    I usually don’t agree with Parmly but his last line is a good one.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 08, 2009 by pipefitter

    The internet is not free,as everyone knows, especialy from Cuba as it has to use satelites to connect to the internet now and this costs a bundle as we know. Is the Cuban government supposed to supply this service free? I wonder how many Cubans could afford the $30.00 to$40.00 U.S. dollar fee per month from a service provider? Possibly Yoani and the like because she would get this money from the U.S. I recieve E mails with photos etc. from family in Cuba almost every day now and they pay nothing.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on February 08, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Cubans get “free” housing, electricity, phone, food etc for free and now they are supposed to pay for the internet?

    I’m surprised the the government came out and said there will still be restrictions. Why would they announce that?

    Proves they are restricting access AND that the Embargo is not to blame.

    Cuba consulting services

  4. Follow up post #4 added on February 08, 2009 by Marek

    The headline is more than misleading… Cuba “will continue to restrict”.  No - if you read Moreno’s actual comments, he says everything (and nothing).  Things will change; we will continue to privilege collective access; the fibre connection will not necessarily reduce the costs;...  No doubt Cuba will do what it has always done: examine in great detail the cost-benefit equation (cost: the connection. benefit: increased Cuban presence on the internet. cost: the fibre link works both ways, giving Cuba’s enemies greater possibility of conducting electronic warfare / hacking / spamming / subversion activities).

    But why would anyone expect the foreign press to put anything but the most negative of spins on anything to do with Cuba?

  5. Follow up post #5 added on February 08, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Because you can never trust anything that comes out of Cuba.

    Cuba consulting services

  6. Follow up post #6 added on February 08, 2009 by pipefitter

    Publisher, your bias is showing again. Of course Cubans would have to pay for the internet because it is the foreign routing that costs money. Do you get your internet for free? If you do, please let us know who your service provider is as I would like to change over. who would do all the virus extraction from the incoming mail? I just had to have my computer de-virused for a cost of $150.00 DOLLARS. Damb Norton doesn’t work anymore!

  7. Follow up post #7 added on February 08, 2009 by pipefitter

    As Marek said, Moreno more or less skirted the question and indicated that maybe in the future it would open up. Cubans can go to the American Interest section in Havana and use the internet for free all they want. Yoani does when she gets tired or disguising herself so she can use the ones in the hotels. (as if the policia don’t know what she looks like LOL)

  8. Follow up post #8 added on February 08, 2009 by Marek

    Pipefitter, as I noted in another thread on this site, on the two occasions in which I saw Yoani using the wireless internet in the lobby of the Melia Cohiba hotel, she was certainly not disguised.  Her access to the internet is limited only by the amount of money she has, to purchase wireless access (at $12 CUC / 2 hrs).

    Let’s put to rest the cloak-and-dagger nature of her supposed clandestine postings, shall we?  smile

  9. Follow up post #9 added on February 08, 2009 by pipefitter

    O.K. but she is the one that seems to love making out how she has to sneek around to use the internet. What a joke. My ears still ring from her whining about things she knows very little about.

  10. Follow up post #10 added on February 08, 2009 by g frame

    To connect to the american cable is not an option as per current american laws they can read all emails.Including cuban government ones

  11. Follow up post #11 added on February 08, 2009 by g frame

    Yoani has dollars from donations and the spanish prize.Anyone with the 6 dollars an hour can use the internet. Who would want to?

  12. Follow up post #12 added on February 08, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    For all you Yoani skeptics, I’ll have you know that I openly support her and don’t mind saying that you are either lying or guessing about her motivation.

    Cuba consulting services

  13. Follow up post #13 added on February 08, 2009 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Pipefitter, regarding the internet in Cuba, I do not get my food, electric, phone, housing or transportation for free.

    Cuban’s get all that but are now supposed to pay for the internet?

    Cuba consulting services

  14. Follow up post #14 added on February 09, 2009 by pipefitter

    The Cuban government ISP has to buy bandwidth from the private Network service providers for dollars to get access to the internet.

  15. Follow up post #15 added on February 09, 2009 by Marek

    Rob / Publisher: Look, you can go on about your “suspicions” that I’m some kind of Cuban government undercover agent or whatever, but I don’t take kindly to being called a liar.  I posted my very simple observations from my last visit to Cuba in September, 2008, when I saw Yoani twice in the lobby of the Melia Cohiba hotel, accessing the wireless network (for which she would have to show her credentials and purchase a code, at $6 CUC /hr, sold only in 2-hr blocks, so $12 CUC), without a care in the world (apart from how much juice her battery had - no power outlets that I could see in the lobby).  That’s it - take it for what it’s worth.

    As for her motivation - I can only speculate. I can, however, share my opinion that Cubans who have every right to be upset / concerned / pissed off / whatever with their life and lot, nonetheless have little idea in general of how magnified their bitching becomes when the international press gets ahold of what they say.

    I offer that there are hundreds of thousands (MORE!) of people all throughout Latin America, subjected to the most horrendous of living conditions and outright oppression by their governments, who can only gaze wistfully at the media bias that puts a global microphone / camera in the face of Cuban “dissidents” so they can complain that they can’t Google.  Give me a break.

  16. Follow up post #16 added on February 12, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Hi Marek,
    You may have been in Cuba and may have seen Yoani, but you have no idea of what the problems are in Cuba and for the Cubans. 
    You may work or not for the Cuban government but the fact is that the way you portray your comments looks like you are bias.
    The fact and the matter is that whenever Yohani goes to the Melia Cohiba and pays for the internet whether openly or not it is still an extraordinarily brave action in a Country where you can be thrown in jail only for giving your opinion.

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