Cuba to Legalize Private WiFi Networks

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The Cuban government will soon legalize private WiFi networks, allowing them to access the internet; the Communist nation will also allow imports of equipment like routers to expand connectivity.

The new rules are effective July 29. They will regulate existing wireless networks Cubans have cobbled together in recent years with smuggled equipment, reports Reuters.

The change was announced in state-run media; It looks to allow private businesses to provide customers with WiFi internet legally, which would boost tourism. However, no network owner would be able to sell that service, with state telecoms company ETECSA maintaining a monopoly on commercial internet access on the Caribbean’s largest island. 

Ordinary citizens will be able to connect to ETECSA’s infrastructure via WiFi by asking for a permit, according to state website Cubadebate. Until 2013, internet was largely available to the public only at tourist hotels on the island.

Some Cubans have used illegal antennas to connect to public hotspots. Others, put off by prohibitive costs, have connected their computers by cable or wirelessly. The new rules will permit these networks, though owners will need to obtain a permit.

June 3, 2019

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