How do I get on the internet in Cuba?
This is a common questions asked by many travelers to Cuba, used to the world of Wi-fi and high-speed broadband. But access to the internet in Cuba is actually a controversial topic and the truth is that you won’t find free Cuba internet access anywhere in the country and you can definitely rule out Wi-fi (apart from at a few exclusive hotels). In saying this, you can still access the internet in Cuba, providing you know where to go!
The largest telecommunication company on the island is called ETECSA and they are also the sole Internet provider. The maximum bandwidth you can reach will be 1 Mbps and the minimum (and most common) 64 Kbps. So far so good, but don’t expect to watch or upload videos, upload photos to Facebook, or have multiple browser windows loading as you normally would back home. Surfing the internet in Cuba requires stoic reserves of patience and even this isn’t enough sometimes.
Only a small minority of Cubans enjoy Internet access from home through dial-up connections (Cuba must be one of the only countries in the world to still use dial-up connections) and some others enjoy ADSL (yes, Frame Relay technology does exist) connections at work.
Tourists are allowed to use the internet at ETECSA public offices and in some hotels by presenting their passport and buying a card at the reception desk (“Salas de navegación“: places where there are multiple computers to provide email services and Internet browsing).
Prices may vary depending on the location, but most will charge between 4.50 and 6.00 CUC an hour. ETECSA offices offer the cheapest service. So not only is it difficult to get use the internet is Cuba, it is also expensive!
Your tour guide or accommodation provider should be able to help you find the closest ETECSA Internet access point.
You will have the option to buy two different types of “Nauta” cards to access the internet in Cuba:
- Half an hour 2.25 CUC
- 1 Hour 4.50 CUC
These cards are valid for a month, at any ETECSA office in the country.
You will find other Cuba internet access points in places known as Cyber-Cafés located in hotels, airports and National Convention Centres. Very rarely a hotel (Hotel Nacional for example) might offer Wi-Fi for a minimum price of 4.50 CUC per hour. Until today, according to ETECSA’s official information, the following places offer Wi-fi Cuba internet access across the country:
– Panorama Hotel (Ave. 3ra y 70, Miramar)
– MH Occidental Miramar Hotel (Quinta Avenida 72 y 76, Miramar)
– Barceló City Hotel (Av 5ta A entre 76 y 80, Miramar)
– Central Park Hotel (Prado & Neptuno, Old Havana)
– Sevilla Hotel (Trocadero #55 between Zulueta st. & Prado ave)
– San Felipe Hotel (Oficios 152 esq a Amargura, Plaza San Francisco de Asís, Old Havana)
– Presidente Hotel ( Calzada 110, esq. a G – Vedado)
– Hotel Nacional (21 & O, Vedado)
Outside Havana you can find Wi-Fi service in those ones:
Varadero beach (Matanzas province)
– Solymar Hotel
– Patriarca Hotel
– Iberostar Hotel
– Laguna Hotel
– Velazco Hotel
– Ensenacho Hotel
Santiago of Cuba
– Melia Santiago
Guardalavaca (Holguín province)
– Paradisus Rio de Oro Hotel
Trinidad (Santi Spiritus province)
– Iberostar Grand Hotel
The thing to remember is that you have not travelled to Cuba to access the internet…. why would you, the internet in Cuba is unreliable, slow and expensive. You have travelled to Cuba to experience the culture, learn about the country’s history and meet the wonderful Cuba people!