Cuba lags behind in ICT
Of the 329 sections into which the "Conceptualization of the Economic Model" document is divided, only number 110 refers to Communications. It reads:
"Social communications are a strategic resource of the State, institutions, companies and the media, at the service of participation - including public debate - for which reason they are regulated and controlled, taking into account the policy laid down by the PCC."
This section does even make reference to the application of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
According to the "2014 Measurement of the Information Society" report, issued by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN), based in Geneva, Cuba is lagging quite behind in the use of ICT.
The second chapter of the report, containing the ICT Development Index (IDI), reads as follows:
A) Access to ICT:
- Landline subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
- Cell phone subscribers per 100 inhabitants.
- Percentage of households with a computer.
- Percentage of households with Internet access.
B) Use of ICTs:
- Percentage of people using the Internet.
- Subscribers to broadband (wired) per 100 inhabitants.
- Subscribers to wireless broadband per 100 inhabitants.
According to the ICT Development Index (IDI) in 2013, Cuba ranked 125 out of a total of 166 ITU member countries, with an IDI of 2.77, coming in behind Ecuador, at 88th with a score of 4.56; Paraguay, ranked 109th, with 3.71; El Salvador, 110th, with 3.61; and Guatemala, 118th, with 3.30. These countries, though featuring general development indexes below that of Cuba, and yet to meet their Millennium Development Goals, are more developed than Cuba when it comes to the application of ICT.
The ICT Development Index classifies countries based on findings with regards to infrastructure and the degree of ICT acceptance and implementation.
The data presented in Chapter 17, on Information and Communication Technologies in the Cuba Statistical Yearbook suffices to explain the country's 125th place in the place in the ITU report.
In Cuba there are 1,320,897 landline subscribers. In the residential sector there are 996,063 subscribers, yielding a density of 41.3 telephones for every 100 inhabitants.
As for cell mobile telephones, at the close of 2015 there were 3,351,500 subscribers, for coverage of 85.3 per 100 inhabitants.
In Cuba there are 1,071,600 computers. Of them, 546,100 are connected to the Internet. The number of users of Internet services at the end of 2015 was 3,912,600 at State agencies, scientific and medical facilities, and universities.
The ONEI (National Statistical Institute) provides data does not correspond to the facts. It claims that there are 348 Internet users and 95 personal computers for every 1,000 Cubans. The numbers don't add up, as there are just over half a million computers connected to the Internet alone.
The information provided by the ONEI does not account for the number of subscribers to Nauta Internet services, provided at navigation facilities supported by ETECSA, Cuba's Telecommunications Company, and the Young Computer Users Club. Nor does it reflect the users of Wi-Fi in public areas opened throughout the country.
As for broadband service, ETECSA does not report on the situation in Cuba, which is shrouded in total mystery.
As reflected in the ITU's report, the growth of broadband was in the double digits in 2014, with a global penetration rate estimated at 32%, four times that recorded just five years earlier.
The poor figures with regards to ICT use reflect the policy of the Cuban State, aimed at deliberate stonewalling.
With an investment of foreign capital it would be possible to modernize the 689 digital telephone exchanges in Cuba, and to provide direct Internet service to households – something that is still not part of ETECSA's plans.
In Cuba one hour of Internet access costs a dollar, making it the most expensive in the world.
The regime's official media outlets insist that there is freedom of the press in Cuba, which is a fallacy. All those who connect to the Internet through the official Nauta server know that there are locked pages, and others that are almost inaccessible, because they take so long to open, costing one too much time online and, therefore, money.
The Government blocks uncensored pages tackling Cuban issues because it is terrified of Cubans finding out through these sites what the military dictatorship's official media hide, manipulate and distort.