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How Young Cubans Have Defied Internet Ban And Built Nework

 / Updated 
Image: Rafael Antonio Broche Moreno
In this Jan. 4, 2015 photo, Rafael Antonio Broche Moreno poses with his computer, modem and intranet network cabling at his home in Havana. Cut off from the Internet, Cuban youth have quietly linked thousands of computers into a hidden network that stretches miles across Havana, letting them chat with friends, play games and download hit movies in a mini-replica of the online world that most Cubans can’t access. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa)Ramon Espinosa / AP

Young Cubans have come up with a partial solution for the lack of home internet connections - they have quietly linked thousands of computers into a hidden network that stretches miles across Havana, allowing them to play games, download movies and chat with friends.

A group have pooled and created a private network of more than 9,000 computers with small, inexpensive but powerful hidden Wi-Fi antennas and Ethernet cables strung over streets and rooftops spanning the entire city. It has around 2,000 users a day.

Cuban officials say Internet access is limited largely because of the U.S. embargo. But Cuba said while it is opening to buying U.S. telecommunications equipment, it's not changing its broader system in exchange for normal U.S. relations.

Outside observers and many Cubans blame the lack of Internet on the government's desire to control the population as well as high cellphone and Internet charges as a source of cash for the government.

"It's proof that it can be done," said 30-year-old systems engineer Alien Garcia. "If I as a private citizen can put up a network with far less income than a government, a country should be able to do it, too, no?"

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--The Associated Press

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