Summer of Wifi in Cuba
Bryan Evan Singer, 46, was sentenced last Thursday to 78 months in prison for violating the embargo on Cuba by trying to smuggle hundreds of electronic devices to the island from South Florida.
Singer tried to travel to the island on May 2, 2017, aboard a boat called “La Mala.” Before setting sail from Stock Island, authorities searched the boat and found a hidden compartment under a bed bolted in the ship’s cabin, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.
In the compartment were hundreds of electronic devices, including more than 300 Ubiquiti Nanostation Network M2 devices, valued at more than $30,000.
When he was initially indicted, Singer told the Miami Herald he had taken goods several times to Cuba and that he had a person on the island “to drop it off with.” He described the charges as “absurd”, adding that he was not smuggling, but rather delivered equipment “for the support of the Cuban people.”
Ubiquiti Nanostation Network devices, which allow extending WiFi signals up to several miles, are usually used to provide internet coverage during large concerts or in rural areas. Each of these devices can receive or send WiFi signals as far as 10 kilometers (about six miles).
“These devices require a license to be exported to Cuba because their capabilities threaten national security,” the prosecution said. “Singer never sought or obtained a license to export these devices to Cuba.”
Since the Cuban government installed the first WiFi navigation zones in parks and other areas across the island in 2013, dozens of underground networks have turned up to provide internet services from the comfort of home. The Cuban government bans the importation of Ubiquiti Nanostation Network and other equipment that expands WiFi networks. So far, the country has around 700 wireless connection points and the state’s monopoly, Etecsa, charges $1 per connection hour.