The Cuban government recently announced they would be expanding their wifi hotspots to include all five miles of the Malecon. Although the service will be continue to be very expensive for ordinary Cubans, the increase in access points will be welcomed.
This is the next step in a government program that began a year and a half ago. In order to increase internet access to its citizens, the government telecommunications utility ETECSA began opening up public wifi hotspots throughout the country, mostly clustered in cities like Havana, Pinar Del Rio and Matanzas. Users can access the internet at these hotspots by purchasing a card or a rechargeable account at an ETECSA shop or agent. You can learn more about these hotspots in our previous post.
Most wifi hotpots are limited to public parks, but some include larger stretches of popular streets, like the hotspot along 23rd street in Havana, known as La Rampa. The Malecon hotspot would essentially serve as an extension of this existing hotspot, eventually including all five miles.
The Malecon was constructed early in the 20th century to reclaim land along Havana’s rocky coastline. The Malecon now includes a six lane highway and a long sidewalk and sea wall stretching along the entirety of Havana. While the highway is not well trafficked due to the lack of cars in Cuba, the wall itself has become quite popular.
This is precisely why the proposed wifi hotspot is such a big deal. For decades, the Malecon has been a place for Cubans to congregate and spend time. A cheap alternative to a bar, the wall provides a meeting point for friends and family, late into the night. Wifi will only increase its popularity. Cuba still has far to guarantee internet access to all its citizens, but this will certainly help many in Havana.