Foot Powered Internet is Cuba’s Version of Netflix
Cuba’s access to the internet is abysmal. Foot powered internet is their only option.
Even as tourists in a fancy hotel lobby with our ETECSCA card the connection sucks. Cubans gathered around the wi-fi hotsposts have it worse. So, with only state-sponsored TV, how do Cubans manage to get the latest movies and TV shows, especially American ones?
They have foot powered internet access. A web of savvy young people find ways of collecting the latest movies and TV shows. Jump drives are loaded with shows and brought to a distribution site where they are stored on computers, then put on other jump drives and handed off from person to person. A foot-powered Netflix. This Paquete Semanal or Weekly Packet system delivers a weekly mix of movies and TV shows.
This is a two year old video with over two million views but I think is just as valid now. It shows how movies, etc are copied on jump drives and passed from person to person. Kind of an internet without wires; a Netflix on foot.
This video, made in 2015 says the internet penetration in Cuba was just 5%. It might be twice that now, horribly low.
The latest report from Freedom House has the internet penetration in Cuba to be 38%. That number must be wildly exaggerated. There is supposed to be a 1000 wi-fi hotspots in Cuba, but most are in hotels for tourists; there is practically no private internet access. However the biggest drawback is that the country is so poor that technology is not widespread and the wi-fi connection cost, even at the “new low rate” of $1.50/hour is about a day’s pay for a Cuban.
The reported 38% internet penetration includes government controlled intranet and other selected, highly controlled access.
Foot powered internet is another example of the difficult, confusing life of typical Cubans.