Employees at state-run news agencies and embassies in Cuba were among the first to gain access to the internet on their mobile devices, as the country moves ahead with a campaign to make the service available to all subscribers by the end of 2018.
Reuters reported the shift marks a stark turnaround from Cuba’s historic practice of severely limiting internet access across the country. However, it noted users will be limited to 3G service and may not necessarily be able to afford access even once it’s widely available.
Incumbent operator ETECSA is yet to release a cost schedule for consumers, but Reuters reported it is currently charging embassies and select companies $45 per month for 4GB of data. The average state wage is $30 per month, the outlet added.
In December 2017, ETECSA president Mayra Arevich Marin said in an interview with YouTube channel CubaHoy the country is aiming to extend internet service to all 5 million mobile phone users by the end of this year.
She added the country was also piloting a mobile banking programme which would allow residents to pay for telephone, electricity and water services
Both Marin and new Cuban president Miguel Diaz-Canel said the increase in connectivity on the island will be a boon for the people and the country’s economy.