May 18, 2016 2:51 pm

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.

April 2, 2016 11:30 am

President Obama’s visit to Cuba last week was one that opened many doors, not only politically but business-wise. While the country still seems to be stuck in a state of suspended animation and it is slowly opening up to capitalist ideas that will mean great changes.

Now I know what you’re thinking. Xavier? Dude, how is this important? Well let me tell you how. The fact that Cuba is a developed country that is still, to us capitalist pigs, undeveloped makes it a fertile ground for the businesses.

On March 20th, the treasury department gave AirBnB the OK to expand its Cuba listings. This is one of the many moves that show just how much and how fast Cuba is becoming more open to businesses. On the same day, PayPal announced that Xoom, a new global money transfer service, would be coming to Cuba by the end of this year.

PayPal is a giant when it comes to the tech world, as well as the world in general. These moves by big companies in Cuba signal an impending tech boom, one that seems inevitable at the moment. This rise of Cuba to a tech giant mirrors the rise that Japan had after World War II, when after decades of
isolation, they opened trading with America and started making products that were considered western; Cars, TVs, etc. Not only did they start producing these things at a faster rate, but they also did them better and for cheaper.


Now, am I saying that Cuba will become the next Japan? Perhaps, Cuba is still a country that can be seen as lacking in a lot of things… but so was Japan. Necessity is the mother of invention, and Cuba for sure still needs a lot. That being said, only 5% of Cuba’s population has internet access, while a majority of them are still stealing it from the blackmarket, according to Uncubed. Not only that, but advertising is still a big issue; it is almost unheard of to advertise there. If you were to describe the American way of watching television where every 10 minutes or so you are interrupted for commercials, most Cubans would probably laugh at you. But I agree with them, commercials suck.

Cuba is still an undecipherable puzzle, but something tells me it won’t be like that for long, so for all of you techies out there that are experiencing the hostile American market, consider Cuba, a country that has been untainted by capitalism. Until now!