Cuba

How do Cubans use the internet and smartphones on the island?

abfernandez@elnuevoherald.com

Manuel Mendez, left and Pedro Jordan, right, take advantage of the free WiFi outside the freshly painted Estadio Latina Americano in Havana on Saturday, March 19, 2016.
Manuel Mendez, left and Pedro Jordan, right, take advantage of the free WiFi outside the freshly painted Estadio Latina Americano in Havana on Saturday, March 19, 2016. adiaz@miamiherald.com

More than half of the Cubans who use the island’s Nauta internet service provided by the national telecommunications monopoly ETECSA, have to travel up to three miles to get to a wifi spot.

That data was obtained by Ding, a company based in Ireland used daily by thousands of people across the globe to send mobile recharge and Nauta credit to phones in Cuba. The company recently carried out a survey on 100 people in Havana and asked them about how they use the internet in Cuba since the introduction of the wifi hotspots last year.

Here are some of the most interesting survey findings:

▪ 62 percent of the people surveyed regularly receive mobile recharge from abroad. (In Cuba, the mobile phone works with a credit that must be recharged. Each time the balance is exhausted, the user must purchase more).

▪ 93 percent of Nauta users own a smartphone, and 84 percent sleep with their phone nearby — expecting late night phone calls from abroad.

▪ 50 percent of the users keep in touch using text messages; none use Twitter for messages.

▪ 37 percent of Cubans use the wifi weekly. Only a small percentage use them daily.

▪ 95 percent of Cubans use Facebook for social. Other social channels are nowhere near as popular.

The Nauta platform offers two services: a permanent e-mail service on mobile, which had over one million users last year, and temporary internet access with a connection speed of 1 megabyte that costs about $2 CUC (about $2.00), quite expensive considering that the average monthly salary in the country is $20.

Internet access on the island remains one of the lowest in Latin America.

Follow Abel Fernández on Twitter @abelfglez

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