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This Is What It’s Like Using the Internet in Cuba
Mar 31, 2015, 2:47 PM ET
REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK By SERENA MARSHALL

The Internet in Cuba is bad — really, really bad.

Imagine you are back in 2001 and set your computer up to download one,
single song off Napster while you are at school all day. It’s that kind
of bad.

I just got back from Cuba for ABC News’ continuing coverage following
the announcement of the renewal of diplomatic relations between the U.S.
and the island nation. One of the first things I expected to see
changed, even before the embargo gets lifted, was Internet access.

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Just to illustrate how bad it seems for an American used to fast
connectivity: I was uploading a photo to send to our digital team — a
beautiful photo of the historic city we wanted to use for one of our
digital stories. The file was around 30 MB. It took nearly an hour to
upload it to Google Drive.

When I returned home, that same file took less than five seconds to upload.

It’s no surprise Cuba is considered the “least connected” country in the
Americas, with the Geneva-based ITU ranking the country 125th out of 166
countries worldwide in telecommunications development.

But officials want to change that. With the new U.S. diplomatic
relations working toward normalization, a senior U.S. State Department
official told members of the media on Monday that Cuba has “real
potential” and that, as a member of the United Nations International
Communications Union, wants to see 50 percent of households have
Internet access by 2020.

“There is real potential here as long as there is a will on the Cuban
side,” the official said. “So as long as the Cubans create an
environment that’s attractive to investment and attractive to deployment
and attractive to the delivery of services, I believe that services will
reach the island.”

In early March, executives from Google visited Cuba for the second time.

Currently, roughly 5 percent of Cubans can access the Internet from
home. The only way to get Internet access for most Cubans is to visit a
government-run Internet location and pay $5 per hour — prohibitively
expensive for most in the island nation. Those who can afford it often
wait for hours to gain access to one of the government-run sites.

The U.S. sent a delegation to Cuba to discuss telecommunications as part
of the talks last week. And President Obama announced connectivity as a
priority, naming telecommunications equipment, technology and services
among the first exemptions to the embargo.

While Internet connectivity moves forward slowly, this American reporter
is most looking forward to Internet on a cell phone — you know, being
able to read email on the iPhone.

Hopefully, by the time we go back next month, Internet speeds will be a
little better. Probably not, but here is looking to the future.

ABC News’ Katelyn Marmon contributed to this report.

Source: This Is What It’s Like Using the Internet in Cuba – ABC News –
http://abcnews.go.com/International/internet-cuba/story?id=30032275

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