ETECSA Claims to Provide the "Cheapest" Internet in the Caribbean

Thursday, May 23, 2024 by Charlotte Gomez

ETECSA Claims to Provide the "Cheapest" Internet in the Caribbean
ETECSA office in Havana - Image by © CiberCuba

In a context marked by the growing inflation of the economy and the progressive devaluation of the Cuban peso (CUP), the communications monopoly in Cuba, ETECSA, claimed that its internet service is the cheapest in the entire Caribbean. According to Lidia Esther Hidalgo Rodríguez, the commercial vice president of the state-owned company, this fact can be substantiated by considering the parameters of the informal exchange rate: "One gigabyte of mobile data is equivalent to $0.17," she stated to the official newspaper Granma.

This so-called "lowest correlation in the Caribbean" seems laughable and controversial, considering that 88% of Cubans live below the poverty line and the minimum wage in the country is 2,100 CUP per month, approximately six dollars (according to the informal exchange rate), below the extreme poverty thresholds (defined by the World Bank as $2.15 in total daily income).

With 7.8 million mobile users, of which 7.3 million are enabled to use the internet due to it being the only telecommunications company in the country, ETECSA offers 54,000 business services with an average bandwidth of 6 Mbps and is "working to create and perfect technological platforms for electronic payment."

In this regard, Hidalgo highlighted that the online payment platform Transfermóvil will soon reach five million active customers, with an average of more than 40 transactions per second. She also mentioned that the company has increased its reach with 250 satellite stations to bring telecommunications to isolated areas, despite the impact of the repeated and overused "blockade" which conditions higher prices for equipment purchases and maintenance execution.

As usual, the shortcomings and difficulties were attributed to external factors. "The effect of the blockade conditions higher prices for the company's purchases, in a range of between 30% and 40%. In contrast, foreign currency revenues, throughout this year, decreased by 30% compared to the same period in 2023," the official explained.

Understanding ETECSA's Claims and Cuba's Economic Context

In light of ETECSA's claims about providing the cheapest internet in the Caribbean, it is essential to understand the broader economic context and the reality of internet access in Cuba. Below are some frequently asked questions and their answers.

How does ETECSA justify its claim of having the cheapest internet in the Caribbean?

ETECSA justifies its claim by referencing the informal exchange rate, stating that one gigabyte of mobile data costs $0.17. However, this claim is controversial given the economic hardships faced by most Cubans.

What is the economic situation of the majority of Cubans?

The majority of Cubans, about 88%, live below the poverty line. The minimum wage in Cuba is roughly six dollars per month, which is significantly below the World Bank's extreme poverty threshold of $2.15 per day.

What are some of the challenges ETECSA faces in providing telecommunications services?

ETECSA faces challenges such as higher equipment costs and maintenance expenses due to the "blockade," which it claims increases prices by 30% to 40%. Additionally, the company has seen a 30% decrease in foreign currency revenues compared to the previous year.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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