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Telecommunications in Cuba
Original Polish version by Magdalena Stachula
Cuba is the biggest Caribbean island, and the fifteenth largest island in the world. The Cuban population is over 11.5 million, with 2.2 million in Havana and about one million in Santiago de Cuba.
Streets of Havana. Among the passers-by there are not descendants of the native Arawak people. The racial make-up is currently: 51% - mulattoes, 37% - whites, 11% - blacks, 1% - Chinamen.
Cuban Telephone Company (CUTELCO) has been established in 1881 by Continental Telephone Company. Telephone lines were in relative abundance before the 1959 revolution. There were connections among 220 cities and towns, with 19876 telephones.
A slump in development of Cuban telephony has begun since the embargo imposed by the United States in 1962. The situation has improved somewhat after the collapse of the Soviet Union communist system. In 1993 there were 5.4 lines per one hundred people.
Since March 2008, the new president, Raul Castro, has allowed Cubans to obtain mobile phones in their own names. The one and only mobile phone operator on the island, ETECSA, has presented its offer that, even though expensive, is very popular with customers.
During the first ten days Cubans bought 7400 cell phones, with monthly standing charges 120 USD, and cost of cellphone 75 USD, whereas the average pay of a Cuban is about 20 USD.
Cuba has problems to communicate with the world - mainly due to American embargo. To overcome the obstacle, in June 2008 the authorities signed an agreement on 1550 km long undersea optical fiber linking Santiago de Kuba province with Venezuelan state Vargas, with 640 GB throughput. The project is to be implemented by the end of 2010. It is a chance to get out of isolation, develop cellular telephony, and improve access to the Internet. Currently, the access is possible in many hotels, but its price is very high, ca. 6 CUC per hour (1 CUC or CUC$ - Cuban convertible peso - about 1.08 USD).
Most of TV antennas on the island are old-construction VHF arrays
Television is the main communication medium in Cuba, also providing entertainment for the islanders. Although majority of the TV sets on the island are vintage American receivers brought to Cuba before revolution, or Soviet televisions bought years ago, every evening they are surrounded by Cuban families watching their favorite broadcasts. There are available four national programs: Cubavisión - TVC, Tele Rebelde, Canal Educativo, Canal Educativo 2, and over ten local channels. The United States Military has a television station to serve the troops at Guantanamo Bay, NBW 8. In hotels there are available foreign broadcasts. Satellite communications is possible via Russian Intersputnik.
TV antennas are often placed on facades
Views of antennas in Havana
The headquarters of Habana Radio FM 106.9 in Havana, Plaza de San Francisco. Other radio programs are Radio Rebele, Radio Rejol, Radio Habana Cuba, Radio Taino, and many local radio stations.
Shots from streets of Havana, 2008
Gas in Cuba is as cheap as in the US, about 0.85 CUC (1 CUC = 1.08 USD)
At cabstands tourists may choose a cocotaxi, vantage car, or Lada
The gate to Chinatown in Havana
Despite the period houses of the downtown Havana (Habana Vieja) are a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982, each year many squalid tenements fall into ruin
Trinidad town - a gem of colonial style