You are most likely reading this on your computer or possibly your phone thanks to the magical powers of the Internet. My wife talked me into upgrading my old 2G Samsung to a 4G iPhone last summer and around the same time, Cuba has made a data plan upgrade.
For roughly the past 20 years, the Internet in Cuba has been limited to very few families (less than 5% of households in 2013 according to The Verge). But as time changes and needs and wants progress, demand for Internet access for public use grew immensely. As of now, there are a few dozen new wireless hot-spots that will allow the general public access to the Internet for the first time in Cuban history, all in and around the city of Havana.
But this access doesn’t come without limits. The public hot-spots run about $2 an hour, which is insanely expensive when a normal Cuban household earns about $20 a month (converted to American dollars). Could you imagine spending %10 of your income on 1 hour of Internet? In a park? With slow, limited access? It is quite the cost for something we use constantly, especially since the few sites that are allowed access in Cuba are filtered and regulated by the government.
Could you go with only a hour of Internet a month? Or no Internet at all? Rooster Teeth, the online film and entertainment company, produced a documentary last year called “Connected,” which was about living sans Internet or modern technology for a week, could you do that?
Even with these tall-order terms to get onto the Internet, the population will still benefit. It’s great that the power of information will start to seep into Cuban life and hopefully become more easily accessible (and affordable) once people get a grasp of how valuable these hot-spots are.
As much as society, cultures and countries fight the need for the Internet, the world is becoming totally dependent on it. Let’s just hope this dependence doesn’t go all Matrix on us.