Cuba is taking a major leap into the 21st century, finally legalizing private Wi-Fi networks and the importation of equipment like routers. Cuba has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on internet use, though these new measures certainly sound like a step in the right direction for a country reluctant to keep up with contemporary trends.
The new law was announced on Wednesday, and gives legal status to thousands of Cubans who created their own homemade Wi-Fi networks with smuggled equipment. Previously, doing so was technically illegal but rarely led to prosecution by authorities.
According to Cuba’s Ministry of Communication, the changes will “contribute to the computerization of society, the well-being of citizens, the sovereignty of the country and the prevention against the harmful effects of non-ionizing radiation.”
The law will also allow private businesses to provide internet to customers, potentially leading to the start of Cuba’s first private internet cafes. State-run cafes have been open since 2013, but their high cost often makes them inaccessible to the average citizen.
While the new regulations are certainly an encouraging sign, it’s important to remember that the state still controls the internet itself. There is only one internet provider in Cuba, called Etecsa, so the government’s monopoly on the internet will continue — for now, at least.