Cuba has announced that it would be legalizing private Wi-Fi networks. The move will allow imports of routers for the first time and boost internet access in a country which has been largely in the dark.
New rules going into effect on July 29 will legalize private Wi-Fi for all Cuban citizens. The law was passed on Wednesday.
For years, Cubans have been smuggling internet equipment to get past the state censors, who have been responsible for limiting — and, in some cases, outright banning — internet usage.
The state’s telecommunications company, ETECSA, will maintain a monopoly on the island, however. As a result, no network owner will be able to sell the service. Ordinary citizens will be able to plug into ETECSA’s infrastructure via Wi-Fi, but a permit is required.
Private Internet in Cuba
Cuba has been largely in the dark when it comes to online access, due to trade embargos, a lack of cash, and state concerns over the free flow of information.
Until 2013, the internet was only available at hot spots for tourists. However, since then, the government has been introducing outdoor Wi-Fi hot spots and mobile internet, which it rolled out last year.
With private Wi-Fi now legalized, much of the country will be coming online in the coming year or two.
Bitcoin Now Open to Cubans
Due to poor internet access, Cubans have been completely shut out of the current cryptocurrency boom. Whereas nations struggling economically, like Venezuela, have still been able to make transactions through Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies, Cubans have had no alternative.
Cuba is still mostly a cash economy, so Bitcoin provides its citizens with, potentially, a new paradigm. However, the situation remains pessimistic, given that Cuba’s infrastructure is still quite poor.
Internet access will allow for an entirely new generation of Cubans to be exposed to cryptocurrency. The question is, how useful will it be in a country where most of the population lacks a 3G smartphone or a computer?