By Cuba Journal Staff
When the state telecom monopoly Etecsa announced in June that it would open numerous WiFi hotspots around the island, Cubans understandably doubted the service.
Today, in the center of one of Havana’s busiest streets, Cubans are enjoying the new freedom. Users with an established account with with Etecsa can use the new Wifi access for $2 per hour.
While the speeds are relatively slow and the cost is high for most Cubans, the new WiFi symbolizes a radical change from the past when the Cuban government tightly controlled internet access.
In March, Kcho, a famous Cuban sculptor who is close to the Cuban government, began operating a single open access WiFi using his own, government-approved internet connection.
Google announced in May a Spanish-language toolbar for Cubans.
The new toolbar, or barra de busqueda, streamlines Internet searching and bookmarking.
In August of last year, Google made its Chrome web browser available in Cuba so people can search “faster and safer,” according to Pedro Less Andrade, the company’s director of public government and political affairs for Latin America.
In a related story, Politico reports that Twitter’s director of global public policy, Colin Crowell, is in talks with representatives from the US’ Cuban Interests Section in Washington, with the objective of establishing a short code– a four-or-five digit number that would allow Cubans to send tweets over SMS.