Internet access via mobile phones starts for all Cubans

Nearly half of the Communist-run country's 11.2 million residents have mobile phones although not all will be able to afford mobile Internet

In an unprecedented move by a Cuban leader, he opened a twitter account in October, with many government officials following suit.

That's how it's been for the people of Cuba for more than half a century, even in the last 20 years when the internet began connecting folks from nearly every remote corner of the planet.

Larger companies and foreign embassies were able to buy into the fledgling 3G network as early as December 2017, according to the Associated Press, and this summer Cuba began allowing access to employees of its state-owned news organizations.

The move to improve internet access comes as Cuba's National Assembly considers revisions to the country's new draft constitution, which will be voted on in a national referendum in February.

But the government has since made boosting connectivity a priority, introducing cybercafes and outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots and slowly starting to hook up homes to the Web.

At the time, many Cubans complained they could not use their mobiles for making calls or sending texts.

The Cuban government has operated internet cafes across the island-state since 2013 and Nauta public WiFi zones since 2015.

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Cuba has lagged far behind most countries in internet access, with a combination of lack of cash, the long-running USA trade embargo and concerns about the flow of information being to blame.

For years, when Cubans talked about 3G mobile internet arriving on the communist-run island, it was with the same sarcasm that people in other countries reserve for discussions of flying pigs and hell freezing over.

Former Cuban dictator Raul Castro and former U.S. President Barack Obama declared detente in 2014 to expand internet access for the Cubans.

In 2015, President Obama allowed US businesses to invest in Cuba's telecom sector.

The new service will be available on Thursday, and this week the first mobile customers will receive notifications that they're eligible.

However, the government has chose to continue the relaxation of restrictions to Internet access, which had largely been confined to hotels and state-owned clubs prior to the start of the decade. Because of the size of the service rollout, Cuba's telecom company will send those notifications over the course of three days. And in a sign of how things have changed in Cuba in recent years, their discussion also was streamed on Facebook and YouTube. As it told its customers about the new Internet access, ETECSA also warned them that in the first days of operation, "incidents could be experienced" that will disrupt service.

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