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Satellite internet service in Cuba

Hi. We are moving to Havana by the end of the month (my wife is a Greek diplomat recently assigned to Havana). Although I'm retired, I do freelance work for an international translation agency and the job depends on internet connection. People at the embassy mentioned about satellite internet providers (mostly Canadian and US companies) in Cuba and, as far as I understand, it is the most preferred way to connect internet by diplomats both in the embassies and residences. Do you have any specific info about them? First of all, do they have legal status in Cuba? What are the rates and speeds? Do they have monthly download quotas/limitations? Any information is very much appreciated.

Best regards
Gabriel

Internet in Cuba is a complicated issue; you may want to check with your embassy since it may be different and more accessible for the diplomatic community.
Access to the internet in Cuba is restricted and controlled by the government – remember this if you choose to log on.
Internet in Cuba is provided by the phone company: ETECSA Telecommunications, major shareholder of the old (Cuban Telephone and Telegraph Co.) Today CUTELCO, est. in 1888, and believe me, telephone and internet connections are still being carried over those original lines installed between the late 1800’s and 1959. All telephone exchanges were to be digitalized in 1960 but, the project had to be terminated due to the deteriorating relations with the US during those times.  Some exchanges are now digital but much of the equipment, including some at the main Telephone offices in Havana and other cities, are still using vacuumed tube equipment that dates back to 1937.
Most of the WI-FI Internet service is carried by a fibber-optic underwater cable form Venezuela but things will improve.  A multiline underwater cable which uses the stratospheric signal bounce system and originally carried, telephone radio and B.W and colour television broadcasts between Cuba and the US since 1957, was recently re-connected and it is being modified to carry high speed internet.   It was the ultimate in advanced technology at the time and hopefully they will be able to integrate it with the newer systems.
There is no free Wi-Fi in Cuba and it is expensive.
There are three ways to access internet and Wi-fi in Cuba. You can log on at (or just outside) the ETECSA telecommunication centres or parks areas, in your hotel, or (and this is relatively new and not widely accessible) at a private home accommodation.
To gain access via any of the three options above you need to purchase a card from a ETECSA telecommunications centre or a hotel which has Wi-Fi accessibility. The card should cost 1.50 CUC / $1.50 / 80p and gives you one hour of online internet access in Cuba. 5 hour cards for $10 are also available.

Diplomats have superfast Internet connections available. The public Internet in parks and along the Malecon has reasonably good speed, comparable to many places in other countries. The public wifi is good enough for telephone calls and videocalls. There is a little park near where I stay and the speeds are comparable to Miami. Large parks near Linea and L as well as along La Rampa has hundreds of people using wifi at any time, and I have noticed that the number of people accessig wifi does affect the speed.
As Armando has mentioned you can buy directly from the telephone company or its kiosks or touts will sell you at a higher price. You will have a subscription when you are resident there as I do and you can refill it on line or buy a card which is separate from the above card in that the latter card for people who have subscribed is available everywhere. They are recently promoting Internet cards in Miami and it is not really worth it, unless you are in the country for a couple of days and you have urgent businesses to transact.
Cubans are ingenious with matters regarding computers, connections and intra and internet and rather sophisticated. Once you make some friends, someone will help you. There are Cuban apps that are also helpful.

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