How is the wifi in Cuba?


How is the wifi in Cuba?

Hey fellow wifi junkies!

I went to Cuba from 13 October — 25 October 2016. This post is for Digital Nomads who are thinking about visiting Cuba themselves. In the Hashtag Nomads Slackchannel, some people kept asking about the best Sim Cards for 3g and places to work from, so I thought it could be usefull to write about my experience.

First of all, to answer important questions about the state of the Internet in Cuba:

  • I would not advise you to work in Cuba. Take it as offline time.
  • No there is no 4g or 3g or anything similar in Cuba yet

Does the internet work?

Yes there is internet in Cuba. You can get wifi at hotels/ resorts or at wifi points (often the same thing), often at public squares (outdoors).

How do I get access?

You can get access for 1 hour with a code that is revealed on a Scratch card. The card you can buy at any Etecsa (Cuban telecommunications company) store and costs 1.5CUC (equal to 1.5USD). Prepare for a queue at any Etecsa store when you buy them, so maybe get a couple for your stay. You can also buy them in some local shops that re-sell them at 3CUC and often someone will be selling them at one of those Wifi points for 3CUC.

Bear in mind that this is the slowest internet you’ll remember having. An hour goes by quickly when you get so little done. Online calls — forget about it, even though you see some Cubans do it at the wifi points. The connection will also often drop since so many people use the same spot at the same time.

So there is no access in Casas Particulares or Cafes?

Only 5% of the population in Cuba has internet at the time of writing this. This is reserved for researchers, Academics etc. There isn’t any access as of yet at any cafes or the majority of Casas Particulares, but apparently they are offering 2000 inhabitants of Old Havana access to the internet at home from 2017. This is a pilot and hopefully they will roll it out. Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/cuba-free-internet-wi-fi-havana-residents-raul-castro-pilot-scheme-communist-a7501721.html

What is restricted in Cuba?

Facebook (uploading pictures is a nightmare) and Whatsapp is not restricted, I used google where the results appear to be curated to the cubans. Read about censorship here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Cuba

I was personally restricted to access my work email as it’s google apps. This was the popup:

How do I recognise a wifi point?

You can go to a hotel and have a drink there, if you’re not staying at one. Then use your Etecsa card. You can also easily recognise the wifi points by the sheer amount of people gathering around like this:

How do I book places to stay?

Remember before we had internet as a normal part of our lives? We used the phone right? The phone rings ALL THE TIME at a Cuban Home (Casa Particular). I would advise you to call or email the first place you’ll stay at (See below for a contact in Havana), and trust on the network of your host to book your next destination. I had booked my first Casa Particular via Airbnb a couple of weeks ahead. Since the locals have the same difficulty to get online as you will, make sure you do this on time and don’t count on the messages too much once you arrive at the airport, because they can’t check them. Unless you want to use the Airbnb Guarantee, I personally don’t see any added value.

Normal prices for a private room at a Casa is 25CUC. Breakfast is often offered at 2–4CUC.

My Host gave me a paper with all their contacts on the island, but most common is to ask them to call your next destination. This also allows you flexibility to stay as long as you want at each city/ town. The host will make sure there’s space and if that Casa Particular is fully booked, you can count on the network of your host’s network to get another place. You can also just wing it like I did in Trinidad, where I was able to negotiate a 20CUC private room with breakfast included, so even if you don’t prepare you will still be fine. At your bus station there will be people waiting for you and offering you a room. Bear in mind that an official casa particular has this sign on their door:

If you have other questions for me:

Places I have been to in the 12 days:

  • Havana (I would advise you to stay 3 or 4 whole days, there’s loads to see and everything in Cuba takes more time than you would expect) I stayed here: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/11243520 — It’s best to call them directly and save the Airbnb Fee: +537 863 9665, email is roomaria@yahoo.es, URL www.casamariaisabel.com. They have contact details of other Casas Particulares all over Cuba.
  • Viñales
  • Cienfuegos
  • Trinidad

I went to the beach at:

  1. Playa del Ancon close to Trinidad (I was warned that from 4pm sand fleas make the place impossible, did not have that experience though)
  2. Playa Rancho Luna, close to Cienfuegos

If you have any questions, please comment below. If you’ve been and something about the information I have provided has changed, please also get in touch so I can update this. Thanks in advance!

Source: Medium:Remote Working
How is the wifi in Cuba?

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