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  • A man chats using the internet with his mobile device in Havana, Cuba.

    A man chats using the internet with his mobile device in Havana, Cuba. | Photo: Reuters

Published 5 December 2018

The expansion of Internet service will enable 50 percent of Cuban households to have broadband access by 2020.

Cubans will be able to access the internet on their mobile phones from Thursday, Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) announced Tuesday.

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According to ETECSA executives, the service will have a range of packages valid for 30 days, ranging from 600 megabytes for the equivalent of US$7 to 4 gigabytes for US$30. Without a package, 100 megabytes will cost users US$10.

Expanding access to the web will benefit nearly half of the 11.2 million residents of the Latin American island by boosting social interactions.

The announcement, made by the state-owned company, is a milestone in the island's technological history.

Due to obstacles placed by the U.S. blockade against Cuba, the island's first internet connection was made in September 1996. Prior to 2012, the island could only connect to the Internet via satellite, which meant that Cuba's capabilities to transmit and receive information were very limited.

At end of 2014, only 28 percent of the Cuban population had Internet access and the Web was largely only available at hotels.

The Cuban Government has since made improving connectivity a priority through the introduction of cybercafes and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots as well as accessibility in homes. In 2014, ETECSA began to enable some 794 public Wi-Fi zones with the expectation that 50 percent of Cuban households will have broadband access by 2020.

"It will be good to be able to connect to the web with greater comfort," Guillermo Diaz, a frequent Wi-Fi hotspot user, stated.

ETECSA Cuba currently has 789 radio-bases of 3G mobile telephony, whose technology allows 66 percent of users to access the Internet from their devices. The remaining users do so through 2G technology.

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