In the technology industry, a lot of features and services are taken for granted. Westerners see no problems with private Wi-Fi networks, but that situation was very different in Cuba. That is, until rather recently, when such private wireless networks were officially legalized in the country.
Cuba Takes a big Step Forward
It is commendable to see any form of open development in Cuba. Albeit this is still a Communist country first and foremost, it seems some positive changes are being introduced in recent months. The latest development comes in the form of making private Wi-Fi networks legal. Additionally, consumers and corporations can now officially import routers. It is rather odd to think how either of those things was impossible and illegal until this week.
For anyone living in a more advanced or Western country, such developments may seem rather unimportant. After all, the majority of the world has enjoyed private wireless networks and a free choice of router for decades. In Cuba, users were forced to use public hotspots, such as wireless networks found at hospitals and other such locations. it was far from an ideal situation, yet allowed the government to monitor all internet traffic accordingly.
It is expected these long overdue changes will go into effect on July 29 of this year. Even though private Wi-Fi networks are still illegal until that date, Cubans have created numerous private networks in recent years. Most of those networks are created through smuggled equipment which was not on the government’s approved list. It seems likely a lot more Wi-Fi networks will pop up come late July and beyond.
For tourists who are looking to visit Cuba, this new development is rather interesting as well. Up until now, it was nearly impossible to access private networks other than those approved by the local government. As Cuba is now trying to welcome tourists with open arms – albeit still with a healthy dose of Communist attitude – improving upon the number of wireless networks is an important step forward.
It is also worth noting the owners of private Wi-Fi networks will not be able to sell this service in a commercial manner. The monopoly on commercial internet access is still in the hands of ETECSA, which will not change. Regular citizens will be able to connect to this agency’s infrastructure by asking for an official permit. It is a very cumbersome workaround, but things could be worse.
There is still a lot of work to be done prior to connecting the majority of Cubans to broadband internet. While this process has been ongoing for some time, interested parties have to contend with a snail’s pace. Whether or not the government will address the growing number of illegal antennas to connect to local hotspots, is a different matter altogether.