Cuba to roll out mobile internet for the first time

Key Points
  • Cuba's state telecoms firm is to roll out a 3G cell phone  service for the first time on Thursday.
  • The cost of data seen as prohibitive to locals who average take home pay of $30 a month.
Young Cubans on mobile devices in Havana, Cuba.
Justin Solomon | CNBC

Cuba has announced that 3G internet access for cell phone users across the country will become available from Thursday.

The Caribbean island nation, which exists under communist rule, opened state-run internet cafes in 2013 and citizens have only had access to home internet and public Wi-Fi hotspots since 2017. In that same year, Google servers in Cuba went live, making the internet giant the first foreign internet company to host content in the country.

Announcing the deal on television on Tuesday night, executives from Cuba's state telecom monopoly ETECSA said they will offer packages of data ranging from 600 MB for 7 convertible Cuban pesos ($7) to 4 GB for 30 Cuban pesos ($30).

According to Trading Economics, the average Cuban in 2017 took home a state salary equating to around $30 each month.

ETECSA said in a statement on its website Wednesday that the rollout of 3G across the country will take place from Thursday to Sunday. It added that the increased access to the internet was part of Cuba's digitalization of society.

3G is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. Its first networks were introduced in 1998.

At the beginning of November, the Cuban government said the country's 2018 growth would come in at around 1 percent, compared with a 2 percent previously forecast.

Cuba's output fell sharply in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union, which had supported the country financially.

WATCH: Bitcoin mining can land you in jail in this country 

Bitcoin mining can land you in jail in this country
Bitcoin mining can land you in jail in this country