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.
If you decide to visit Cuba be sure to see my Top Things to See in Havana. Also see Latest Travel Restrictions