Cuba, where Internet access is largely limited to government employees and pricey pay-by-hour public access, plans to start offering wireless service for the first time this month, officials said Saturday.
Wireless Internet connections — for laptops, smartphones or tablets — will get a limited rollout through state-run Etecsa in Cuba’s second-largest city, Santiago de Cuba.
“Santiago (de Cuba) has been picked by Etecsa to test wifi service late this month,” read a statement on the website of the Union of Cuban Journalists, a government association.
Cuba, the only communist-run country in the Americas, allows some locals such as journalists, doctors and athletes to have Internet access at home.
But anyone who wants their own router — for a WiFi signal — needs permission from the Communications Ministry first.
Tech-savvy young Cubans often piggy-back on the signals of hotels and government offices.
The journalists’ site said WiFi access — unclear where for now — will cost $4.5 an hour. That is the same rate, unaffordable to many, as that offered at public Internet cafes.
Most Cubans make under $20 a month.
Last year, 3.4 percent of homes in Cuba had Internet access — one of the world’s lowest rates, according to international technology authorities.