Weekly Chart: Cuba's Internet Black Hole

By Elizabeth Gonzalez

The island has a long way to go to reach its goal of connecting 50 percent of homes by 2020.

As of January 2016, Cuba has lofty plans to connect 50 percent of homes with broadband Internet by 2020. Across the Americas, household Internet access stands at 60 percent. But in 2014, just 3.4 percent of Cubans had Internet at home. Overall, Internet users amount to 25.7 percent of the Cuban population. That includes Cubans surfing on the national intranet that is restricted to local websites, and which costs $0.60 an hour to use in public Wi-Fi spots, as opposed to $2 per hour for the World Wide Web. Either way, the cost is significant in a country where the average monthly wage is $20.

It’s not just the low salaries that pose a barrier: Cubans are prohibited from purchasing Internet for their homes. The government’s plan prioritizes those who already have dial-up internet, such as the self-employed or those who work in authorized sectors like telecommunications. A publication from ETECSA—the state telecom company—says Cubans will first need active landlines to connect to broadband, which the majority (75.9 percent) of Cubans don’t have.

AS/COA Online tracks the stats as the broadband plan kicks off.