Latin America & Caribbean

Cuba announces broadband home internet project

People surf the Internet at a Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana Image copyright AP
Image caption Cubans can access the internet in a number of public wi-fi spots across the country

Cuba has announced it will launch residential broadband internet services in two areas of its capital, Havana.

The government has also said it will allow cafes, bars and restaurants to order broadband service.

Currently, broadband home connection is legal only for diplomats and employees of foreign companies, a report said.

The Caribbean nation is one of the world's least connected countries, and only between 5% to 25% of Cubans have any type of internet service.

Cuba's state telecom agency Etecsa said the pilot project would allow residents in the historic district of Old Havana to order broadband through fibre-optic connections operated by the Chinese telecom firm Huawei.

No timeline or prices have been announced.

Media captionThe Internet comes to Cuba.

Some Cuban citizens have dial-up home services or restricted mobile phone connections that allow access only to state-run email, The Associated Press news agency said.

The public can access the internet in public wi-fi spots in Cuba, which opened last year. But many have complained about the cost of the connection: $2 (£1.4) an hour, or about a 10th of the average monthly salary.

There are 58 wireless internet points in Cuba, 17 of them in Havana. Around 150,000 Cubans used those spots daily in 2015, according to Etecsa data.

Odalys Rodriguez del Toro, Etecsa director for Havana, has also announced that 30 more public wi-fi spots will be opened in the capital in 2016, doubling the number of access points.

Image caption The pilot project will be available to two neighbourhoods of Old Havana, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cuba

The United States has been pushing Cuba to show that it is improving conditions for its citizens as the two countries normalise their relations after more than 50 years of hostility.

US President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Cuba later this year to celebrate the re-establishment of diplomatic relations.

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