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Cuba Expands its Wi-Fi

by Associated Press /
Image: CUBA-CAR-SALES
A bike-taxi and a vintage American car are seen in front of a building decorated with a large Cuban flag, on December 31, 2013, in Havana. AFP PHOTO/ADALBERTO ROQUE (Photo credit should read ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP/Getty Images)ADALBERTO ROQUE / AFP/Getty Images

Dozens of state-run internet centers will have Wi-Fi while usage costs will go down by more than half as Cuba begins expanding its internet reach.

The price of one hour of online access in Cuba will drop to $2 from $4.50 starting next month, and 35 government computer centers will have Wi-Fi. That price remains unaffordable for most Cubans but the change would represent a significant improvement in access for many people.

Previously, Wi-Fi was only available at tourist hotels at hourly prices that would amount to nearly a quarter of the average monthly salary for Cubans.

This is a move forward in the expansion of online access in Cuba since Dec. 17, when President Barack Obama said the Cuban government had said it would take steps to give its people online access.

"The internet space is opening up here and I think this is a significant step," said Norges Rodriguez, a blogger and telecommunications engineer in Havana. "A year or two ago, we didn't have anything like this."

Home internet is still illegal for most Cubans and online access in offices is highly limited and controlled.

Cuba's lack of connectivity stems from a fear that the internet will trigger social unrest, critics say.

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