Last updated: 10:38 AM ET, Tue March 17 2015

Cuba’s First Public Wi-Fi Service is Step in the Right Direction

Destination & Tourism | Donald Wood | March 17, 2015

Cuba’s First Public Wi-Fi Service is Step in the Right Direction

Photo by David Cogswell

For many, the perception of Cuba is largely on of insulation, but the kindness and dedication of a local artist is helping bring the Internet to the community (and vice-versa) for the first time.

According to Jessica Plautz of, the rise of technology in Cuba continues as the country’s first free and public Wi-Fi Internet service was launched this January in Havana by Cuban artist Kcho.

Kcho is one of the most popular artists in Cuba and he has developed a strong relationship with the government during his career. Using that relationship, the country’s state-run telecommunications company, Etecsa, granted Kcho permission to offer the free Wi-Fi at a local cultural center.

In the report from Plautz, Kcho claims that the Wi-Fi connections come from his own personal Internet and that helping Cuba’s young people familiarize themselves with the service is the primary reason for the decision to open the free hotspot.

When asked about his work bringing Internet access to the community, Kcho told the Associated Press, via, about why he is doing it:

“This is an unusual thing, and it's only possible through the will to do it and (through absorbing) the costs. It is expensive, but the benefit is tremendous. I have something that is great and powerful. I can share it, and I am doing so.”

Unfortunately, the Internet connection is not up to par with the rest of the world yet.

The Wi-Fi connection set up by Kcho at the cultural center in Havana has a speed of two mbps, according to Plautz. For comparison, the world average is 3.9 mbps and the United States registers at an average of 10.5 mbps.

While the connection is still one of the worst in the world, per the report, the government’s stranglehold on the service is slowly loosening. Add in the developing relationship between the United States and Cuba, and the hope is that reliable and faster Internet service will become more prevalent.

According to Plautz, only 5 to 25 percent of Cubans currently have Internet access. For the country to continue developing, that number must climb dramatically.

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