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Cuba's Internet Isolation Beginning to Lift

A Mobile Shop in Havana, Cuba

(Image: AP)

February 10, 2016

On a recent trip to Havana, I waited in my hotel lobby for my next meeting, sipping a cortado, and scrolling through emails surrounded by bustling businesspeople in every direction.

It felt like a hotel in any global business capital. Yet a stark reminder of my surroundings -- aside from the physical realities of the charm of a boutique hotel in Cuba's Habana Vieja neighborhood -- was the immediate lack of any Internet connection as soon as I stepped outside the confines of the hotel. My stay in a casa particular (private house) the remainder of the week only heightened this reality, and my time spent coordinating roaming service yielded spotty results.

Cuba's announcement of launching broadband Internet service in two pilot projects in Havana is historic. This is welcome news to the growing number of cultural and business travelers to the island that have ballooned just this past year alone -- up 17.4% globally and 77% from the U.S. -- to a record 3.52 million visitors. But more importantly, the initiative must extend beyond business and tourism and be the start of truly connecting Cubans with each other and the outside world...

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