When initially arriving at a holiday destination, one of the first things we want to do is reassure family and friends back home that we arrived safely. This should be as simple as taking out your mobile phone, connecting to local Wi-Fi, and making a call or sending an e-mail from your Havana accommodation. Unfortunately in Cuba it’s not that simple as only 5 percent of Cuban people have the capability to connect to the internet from home (usually via dial up). Therefore it becomes rather difficult to establish communication easily with other countries.
Things are slowly changing with regards to internet access: At present there are approximately 20 public Wi-Fi spots in Havana, with another 30 in the pipeline for the city in the next 12 months. The Cuban government is also planning a further 60+ hotspots across the rest of the island in due course.
You can find a Wi-Fi hotspot easily in the city by spotting large groups of people huddled together with smartphones and tablets eagerly utilising the services. Check the Wi-Fi settings on your phone then look for the WIFI_ETECSA hotspots that are usually close the city’s parks, or simply seek out the crowds of people. Apart from these areas, however, you will rarely see a Cuban person walking down the street using their phone.
The easiest way to communicate messages to family and friends back home is by using an internet card. There are kiosks throughout Havana that sell them and cost approximately 2.50 CUC/USD for one hour. You will be given an 11-digit code that acts as your username. Hotel Wi-Fi is much more expensive and quite slow (dial up), this can cost up to 7.40 CUC/USD for an hour of use. Thus, it is much wiser to venture out and purchase and internet card.
A general rule of thumb is that if you wish to contact family and friends upon arrival at your Havana apartment, head out to one of the Etecsa kiosks and invest in an internet card to stay connected throughout your Havana holiday.
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