TO CONNECT OR NOT TO CONNECT: Wifi in Havana
Up until a few years ago many visitors to Cuba thoroughly enjoyed being unplugged. They revelled in turning off their phones, merrily sending out a pre-holiday round robin to let friends and work know that they were unavailable. Nowadays, though, the majority of us seem less open (or able) to switch off – we need to be connected.
How to connect to Wifi in Havana
- Buy a 2-hour, pre-paid hotel card, opting for the comfort of their WiFi suite, with technician on hand. Prices presently range from 4-6 cucs per hour.
- Buy the same card but use your own equipment, lounging on the hotel sofa.
- Buy the cheaper prepaid Nauta card (buy at reception: 2 cucs per hour ) and do exactly the same.
But if you want the full-on Cuban experience take yourself and your Nauta card outside the hotel or to one of the newly-opened public Wifi spots. Cuba has opened 35 of these nationwide – finally offering more open access in a country with previously very restricted Internet use. All you need now is the Nauta card and off you go. One in La Rampa (Vedado district) runs about 5 blocks from the Malecon to the Yara Cinema. There you’ll find hundreds of people sitting on walls, leaning on lampposts or even gathered in cars – all connecting in one way or another.
Some are unhappy, even angry. It’s uncomfortable being on a busy road, in rain or hot sun, with little privacy and often at night. It’s also exhorbitantly expensive – the average Cuban monthly wage is approx 15 gbp’s. Others, though, are over the moon: I watched an elderly couple – sharing a headset, one earpiece each – laugh and cry as they talked to their grandsons in Miami. It’s a start, they said. And that seems to echo the opinion of the majority.