Cuba to expand government-controlled Internet access | Americas| North and South American news impacting on Europe | DW | 28.05.2013
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Cuba to expand government-controlled Internet access

Cuba's communist government has presented a plan to expand public Internet access on the Caribbean island nation. But private Internet access in Cuban homes will remain unavailable.

According to a government resolution published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday, authorities plan to set up 118 additional places where Cubans can access state-controlled Internet for a fee.

The expansion, set to begin on June 4, will take advantage of an undersea fiber optic cable from Venezuela. Cuba is currently receiving Internet access through a slow and expensive satellite link. Havana has been unable to join other undersea fiber optic cables due to an embargo by the United States.

The government said that Cubans will be able to access the Internet at the designated sites for a fee of $4.50 (3.50 euros) an hour, down from the current price of $6 an hour. Cubans will be able to check their email for a fee of $1.50.

But Tuesday's resolution made clear that the Internet will remain under strict state control. The government has warned that it will not tolerate Internet users who "endanger or prejudice public security, or the integrity and sovereignty of the nation."

Cuba has one of the lowest rates of Internet access in Latin America. There are some 2.6 million Internet users, out of a population of 11.1 million, according to official statistics.

The government claims that limited bandwidth has forced it to prioritize the Internet for social purposes, giving priority to universities, companies and research institutions instead of private access in households.

slk/msh (AP, AFP)