HAVANA, April 12. /Offset. TASS bekrenev Andrei/. The economic and trade embargo imposed by the United States against Cuba half a century ago, hinders the development of the telecommunications sector in the Caribbean nation. This was told on Wednesday in interview to the correspondent of TASS, the Vice-President for business strategy and technology of the Cuban state Telecom company ETECSA Tanya Velasquez.
ETECSA was established in 1994 and is the only company in Cuba, providing services of fixed telephony, mobile communication and Internet access.
“The annual damage from us blockade in the telecommunications industry tens of millions of dollars. Many of the technologies we have to buy via third countries, as manufacturers and service providers can’t sell them to us directly. This naturally leads to a substantial increase in costs,” said Velasquez.
In addition, current U.S. laws impose restrictions on American technology sold to Cuba equipment. In case of violation of these rules, the Department of state imposes on the company and the banks multimillion-dollar fines. According to Velasquez, this undoubtedly pushes many companies from cooperation with Cuba.
The initiative of the United States for Cuba, not a hindrance
In January 2018, the state Department announced the creation of a certain working group to expand Internet access in Cuba. The composition of this group, whose first meeting was held in February, came as representatives of the various departments of the government of the United States and experts working in non-governmental organisations.
In connection with this initiative of the American administration of the Cuban foreign Ministry handed a protest note to the chargé d’affaires of the USA in the Caribbean nation. The Cuban foreign Ministry condemned the attempts of the U.S. government “grossly violate the sovereignty of Cuba regarding the right to independent regulation of information flows”.
Vice President of ETECSA noted that the initiative of the state Department on the work of the company is not affected. “We are continuing to implement their plans, to develop a program of Informatization of the society. While no interference in our work, we have not noticed,” – said the Agency interlocutor.
According to her, the US is trying to convince the world that in Cuba there is free Internet access for political reasons. “In fact, access to the worldwide network on the island is strictly limited to technical and financial reasons. Any Cuban can go into a public area Wi-Fi and to connect to the Internet,” said Vice President of ETECSA. Velasquez believes that the initiative of the state Department is part of the strategy of U.S. President Donald trump on the abolition of the policy of normalizing relations with Cuba, followed by the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama.
“Under Obama, the blockade was maintained, but was adopted some measures to normalize relations. In particular, ETECSA has signed an agreement for the provision of roaming services with such American providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile. These companies, of course, is now concerned about the change of course in Washington, but agreement with them continue to operate,” said Vice President of ETECSA. According to her, politics trump led to the fact that Cuba began to visit less tourists from the US, but the us carriers announced that they are going to curtail work in the Caribbean nation.
Since 2013, liberty Island is connected to the world wide web through fiber optic cable carried out from Venezuela. According to the Vice-President of ETECSA, the use of other communication cables laid close to the island of Cuba, because they belong to the United States.
Plans for the development of the Internet in Cuba
Cuba remains a state with one of the lowest levels of Internet penetration in the world, but the authorities are making serious efforts to remedy the situation. According to official figures, in 2017, around 40% of Cubans had access to the Internet – 37% more than in 2010.
“The program of development of the Internet especially actively implemented in Cuba in the last three or four years. In 2015, ETECSA has begun to equipment in parks public wireless connection. Now in the country more than 1.5 thousand of such areas,” – said the Agency interlocutor.
To connect to Wi-Fi to residents of Cuba need to purchase a special card, one hour Internet it costs $1. According to Velasquez, the development of infrastructure prices for communication services will decline.
Last year ETECSA started the Internet in homes. To do this, access your home network on the island were only a few categories of citizens, doctors, journalists, teachers, researchers.
Vice President of ETECSA announced that this year it is planned to connect to the Internet over 50 thousand houses, and create another 150 Wi-Fi hotspots, not only outside, but also indoors.
It is expected that this year the island will appear the mobile Internet, which will be provided by the technology of mobile communication of the third generation (3G). “The conditions for the commencement of the services is almost ready, now we are finalizing some technical details. In all the administrative centers of the country have already deployed 3G technology, Havana is completely covered,” said Velasquez.