Cuba Builds the Internet It Needs

 Professionals from several sectors, representatives of the civil society and local governments debated in Cuba on an Internet to be better.

The international panorama is today, as it almost always is, very complex; the digital panorama is also complex, a reflection, although mediatized, of the first one.

Amid such varied and difficult scenario, Cubans meet since June 25th until today to come up with an Internet with social justice and for the sustainable human development.

Consistent with the slogan of the meeting, that was the exhortation made by María Esther Alfonso Suárez, First vice-president of the Cuban Group of Computer Experts (UIC for its acronym in Spanish) and Executive President of the organizing committee of the I National Forum for Internet Governance, during its opening, at the Conventions Palace of the Cuban capital.

"This event –said also the official from UIC - has become an opportunity to bring together government, academic and research communities, managerial and non- state sectors, technical community and the civil society, to meditate on the best use in this strategic resource”.

Alfonso Suárez added that the use of Internet must be fully compatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the International Right.

Sponsored by the Cuban Association of the United Nations, the UIC, the Cuban Group of Journalists, the Cuban Association of Social Communicators, the Union of Jurists from Cuba, the National Association of Economists and Accountants from and the Association of Educators from Cuba, this is the first time Cuba organizes a National Forum of this type.

Since 2006 have taken place international meetings on the governance of Internet as a result of the summoning made by the General Secretary of the United Nations to create a platform that every year welcomed several debates regarding good policies and practices related to Internet.

Putting within everyone’s reach good guidelines that help steer the navigation and any other interaction with Internet aimed at the human and social growth, always accompanied by ethics and culture. This is the ultimate purpose of this meeting which had as introduction similar events in all domestic provinces.

Just in the same way in which the Cuban society is unique - in a world ruled by selfishness, individualism and the lack of civility -, its behavior in and ways of acting in cyberspace must be also unique.

In a world where globalization blurs at times the identities, feelings of belonging and many other features that tells apart each country and each individual from the other, it’s not a simple objective to also reaffirm the course in the so-called highway of information, and disinformation too.

Therefore, the adviser for the Ministry of Communications, Juan Alfonso Fernández González, was clear during the conference he delivered at the National Forum what was the Governance of Internet.

Fernández González specified that "It’s the development and the application on behalf of governments, private sector and the civil society, in the functions concerning them respectively, of principles, norms, rules, decision-making procedures and common programs that configure the evolution and use of Internet."

He next asserted that the Internet we wish for and need must be built with everyone’s help.

On the other hand, the Minister of Communications, Jorge Luis Perdomo, quoted that Internet is influenced by cultural trends that cannot be ignored and urged to keep on developing Cuban projects, platforms of services and domestic contents, while raising the culture of citizens on cyber security.

"Each country is entitled to be proactive in the development of the computer science society, focused on the individual, but with responsibility. Cuba will continue increasing the Internet access to citizens and institutions to maximize the opportunities it brings and guarantee the rights of Cubans to enjoy that environment, deal with the risks and challenges", he said.

There are many challenges, especially if we understand that Internet is also the arena of a thousand battles where are made more than evident the blunt attempts of the U.S. for blurring each of our conquests and suffocate us with shortages.

Let’s just remember that the U.S. has just approved more than 32 million dollars for the subversion in Cuba. This is the new budget for those goals during fiscal year 2020 that goes from October 1st, 2019 until September 30th, 2020. Undoubtedly, part of them will finance many unhealthy attempts in the cyberspace, probably lead by the Cuba Internet Task Force of the North American Department of State.

Nevertheless, while this happens and amid a blockade that tightens every time, next with the coming into force of the Title III and IV of the Helms-Burton Act, Cuba has already a history in Internet since in year 2000 started the access to it, prioritized sectors in our economic and social panorama came first.

At present, 60% of Cubans have Internet access; they do this for free from jobs and schools centers. Also, the possibility of Internet access from mobiles has increased connectivity since last December. Connectivity has increased so much that out of the 5, 5 million mobile lines in Cuba, 2, 5 millions of them have access to mobile data.

On top of the above we must say that other ways of navigation like Wi-Fi areas have also increased, with a total of 1042 Internet access areas.

There are also more than two million permanent Nauta accounts and more than 87 000 houses connected by Nauta Hogar.

The peculiarities that distinguish Cuba’s actions in Internet ratify that it has been followed the goal present in the slogan of this I National Forum of Cyber Space Governance: Internet: Social Justice and the Sustainable Human Development.

Five Million Cell Phone Lines Active in Cuba

Cuba’s Telecommunications Company ETECSA announced on Thursday that the number of active cell phone lines has reached five million thus confirming the incrase of that service over the past few years.

According to statistics released by the company, some 43 thousand cell phone lines were active in December 2003, a figured that increased to 223 thousand by April 2008.

The numbers grew to reach one million lines in June 2010, two million in March 2014 and three million in April 2015, while in December 2016, the figured reached four million active lines.

The Telecom company has noticeably expanded its services including internet rooms and wifi hotspots throughout the island, as well as still limited home-based adsl connections.

Along with the state services, private workers have spread cell phone repair and sale businesses in many areas, what has helped Cubans enjoy the use of smart phones for their communication in different modalities.

  • Published in Cuba

Cuba now has 50 wi-fi hotspots

Cuba now has 50 wi-fi hotspotsHAVANA, Cuba, Nov 25 (acn) The Telecommunications Company of Cuba, ETECSA S.A by its Spanish acronym, opened from Tuesday another four WIFI areas for wireless Internet access, located in parks and urban areas of public high influx, Granma newspaper says.

The new areas are located in parks Rubén Bravo, in Holguin province; Calixto Garcia, in Granma province; and Monaco, in Havana; in addition to the Central and 14th pavilions of EXPOCUBA fairground in the capital.

With these new areas there are 50 WIFI public zones throughout the country and it is expected to create five others before the end of the year, and this will be communicated in due course.

For information and assistance on this path to the Internet, users can call to 118, commercial information service.

  • Published in Now

Cuba: New Wi-Fi Spots will Extend Use of Internet

ETECSA reminds of the possibility offered by Computing Clubs as an alternative Internet browsing. Highlighting the advantages of permanent cards for the Nauta service and specifies that Wi-Fi spots will grow before year end and rates for the use of Internet will gradually drop.

Cuba has the political will to continue advancing in the computerization process and bring these services closer to the population, vice minister for Communications Wilfredo González assured yesterday on a TV show devoted to this important topic.

González informed that since June 4, 2013, at the beginning of the amplification process, there are today more than 3 millions Cubans who have access to Internet and approximately 1 million Nauta users.

The intention is to keep encouraging, he said, the infrastructure in communications, either wired or wireless, and boost the broadband development, quality guarantee. The economic-financial elements mark the development of these goals, he finished.

He mentioned 35 projects of greater impact in the development of technologies considered basic. He said these projects are supported in two fundamental premises: to create capacities and technological infrastructure and at the same time to consider technological security and sustainability. These 35 projects are considered as the Red Cuba platform.

The banking system appears among these projects, the computerization of public records, to this purpose is necessary to computerize the primary registers – he stressed -, as well as that of digital TV. As for digital TV he said that more than 500 thousand decoding boxes have already been bought.

ETECSA’s Executive Director, Mayra Arevich Machín, underlined that the development of communications infrastructure depends significantly on how sustainable is done. She emphasized that "the development of telecommunications in Cuba must follow the same pace of economy."

She highlighted the importance of security to avoid computer attacks. We cannot risk our economy neither the security of services. Therefore, we must work to keep our applications with security and sustainability."

Arevich remembered that since year 2000 the development of Internet began in Cuba and she emphasized the important premise of improving the infrastructure and bandwidth of entities. Today, she added, most Cuban ministries can load their applications in data centers.

Among the goals achieved this year she mentioned the work in the integration of universities, as well as the modernization of the Infomed platform. It’s something we are very proud of, she commented.

The directive of the Cuban company made public the inclination of users for the Nauta temporary account, which have sold 3,8 millions approximately. Nevertheless, she called the attention on the advantages of the permanent account whose one-year duration allows the owner to recharge through bonus. Arevich insisted in that the permanent account offers greater facilities, not trips to sale offices and turning to resellers' as option.

There are nearly 3 million cell phones right now - it has been an explosion in just a few years, - and almost a million clients use the Nauta mail.

The Wi-Fi Spots

ETECSA’s Executive Director, Mayra Arevich, expressed the intention of increasing the number of Wi-Fi spots which are presently 35.

Questioned about the practice of having several users with a single account, she clarified that, although it’s doable, is counterproductive to the quality of the service they get because for better results a certain bandwidth is needed.

There are a few Wi-Fi spots that do not comply with all the conditions so people can navigate comfortably. For the coming spots are intended to make previous consultations to municipal and provincial organizations to achieve greater comfort.

Regarding the Nauta service rates, she said that the policy to follow is the gradual drop in the prices which went from 4.50 cuc per hour to 2 cuc. “We know it is high, she said, it depends on the system capacity, but we will continue lowering the rates. We’ll look for special offers for the permanent accounts".

The computer sciences and other windows

The vice-dean of production at the University of Computer Sciences (UCS), Reynaldo Rosado Roselló, assured in the television that today the potential of development of computer sciences in Cuba gathers 30 software developing companies, which today works in teams and strategic alliances. 

As key element of this task he mentioned the human resources. He remembered that 13 years ago Fidel had the vision of creating the UCS to give crash courses to computer programmers and today we can speak of a software industry, because we have an elevated number of computer engineers and from other similar studies.

He mentioned 128 projects developed by the UCS, an atypical university since it’s an educational and productive center at the same time while it works supporting the Cuban software industry.

Regarding the Young Computing and Electronic Club, created in 1987, its directress, Anamaris Solórzano, highlighted that among their priorities appear the technical support to the Cuban encyclopedia Ecured, with about 200 thousand daily visits.

It has also been created the portable Ecured and the Ecumobile (for android 2.2 or higher) in two versions, with and without images, the second can be downloaded from the net.

During the television program it was announced the creation of the Union of Computer Engineers of Cuba, a request from the IT and communications professionals of the country, said Ailyn Febles, vice-dean of the UCS and coordinator for the creation process of the new organization.

At present nearly 4 thousand professionals have been registered and creation process must conclude next January. “It will be, referred Febles, an organization leading the free software and defender of the technological sovereignty and pioneer of the technological breakthroughs attained by Cuba."

Last, but not least, it was approached the aspect of cyber security.  

Since 2014 until 2015, more than 176 nations have been notified on cybernetic attacks carried out against our country. Hence a key element is to promote the international solidarity in this regard. Cooperation ties have been established with more than 20 nations, including China and Russia. Cuba supports the use of the cyberspace with peaceful ends.

The conclusion of the program aimed at continuing advancing in the computerization of the Cuban society and the access of the population to new technologies, always cyber security keeping in mind and without forgetting the importance of these breakthroughs for the development of the economy, sciences and the entire work of society. It was noted that the United States has been the main obstacle for the development of telecommunications and computer science in Cuba.

Internet: Cubans Navigate with Wi-Fi

With the goal of widening access to Internet users, the Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa) opened today 35 Internet rooms with Wi-Fi technology in public spaces of several cities, besides lowering the rate for that purpose.  

The chosen Wi-Fi spots in the Cuban capital were La Rampa, from Malecon Avenue to Yara movies; the parks on 51 Ave., in La Lisa, and Fe del Valle, in Galiano and San Rafael streets, Centro Habana; the Amphitheater of Marianao and the Promenade in the Pan-American Villa, in Cojímar, East of Havana.  

A quick tour through ETECSA facilities allowed us to see the long lines of interested people in signing contracts for local Nauta accounts. Signing this contract and using cell phones, laptops or tablets will allow them to hook up to Internet and communicate with different parts of the world.  

Many were motivated to take these new services since the announcement that, starting this Wednesday, the price on the hour for Internet navigation would have a discount of up to 2 CUC (Cuban money equivalent to the dollar) for Nauta users, an approximate cut back of the 50% regarding the established rates.  

As informed, the connection speed for wireless Internet will be 1 Mbps for each user, on this regard several interviewees said that although it’s quick "when there are more than 100 people connected in a single spot, the servers get overloaded".

Besides showing concern for this clogging, the Wi-Fi spot in La Rampa, young Carlos Manuel Castillo García commented to AIN how positive were these steps for the computerization of society, "rates are yet far away from the affordability of many Cubans whose wages aren’t enough".    

  • Published in Cuba
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