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The Internet Communications Government Networking United States Politics

A Strategy For Attaining Cuban Internet Connectivity 119

Posted by timothy
from the about-time-and-overdue dept.
lpress writes "In the mid 1990s, there was debate within the Cuban government about the Internet. A combination of pressure from the U.S. trade embargo, the financial crisis brought on by the collapse of the Soviet Union and fear of free expression led to a decision to limit Internet access. This has left Cuba with sparse, antiquated domestic infrastructure today. Could the government improve the situation if they decided to do so? They don't have sufficient funds to build out modern infrastructure and foreign investment through privatization of telecommunication would be difficult to obtain. Furthermore, that strategy has not benefited the people in other developing nations. A decentralized strategy using a large number of satellite links could quickly bootstrap the Cuban Internet. Decentralized funding and control of infrastructure has been an effective transitional strategy in other cases, for example, with the NSFNET in the U.S. or the Grameen Phone ladies in Bangladesh. This proposal would face political roadblocks in both the US and Cuba; however, change is being considered in the U.S. and the Castro government has been experimenting with small business and they have begun allowing communication agents to sell telephone and Internet time. It might just work — as saying goes "Be realistic. Demand the impossible.""
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A Strategy For Attaining Cuban Internet Connectivity

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  • by maz2331 (1104901) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @03:20PM (#46240169)

    Allowing Internet connectivity reduces the centralized control that a totalitarian Communist system requires in order to protect the leaders and the system itself from the inconvenience of reality.

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Allowing Internet connectivity reduces the centralized control that a totalitarian Communist system requires in order to protect the leaders and the system itself from the inconvenience of reality.

      Whereas in other countries we apparently use distributed control in order to protect the leaders and the system from the inconvenience of reality.

    • by isorox (205688)

      Allowing Internet connectivity reduces the centralized control that a totalitarian Communist system requires in order to protect the leaders and the system itself from the inconvenience of reality.

      It's OK, the cable companies and telcos are trying their hardest to put the genie back in the bottle.

    • Right ... like China, Egypt, Russia, ... oh, and the US. And yet, the increased connectivity in each is allowing the public in each a greater hand in their own governance by allowing freedom if speech.

      • And yet, the increased connectivity in each is allowing the public in each a greater hand in their own governance by allowing freedom if speech.

        Which was GP's point, I think. I doubt very seriously that whichever Castro is running things now is all that interested in...how did you put it?

        Oh, yeah, " the increased connectivity in each is allowing the public in each a greater hand in their own governance by allowing freedom if speech"....

    • I just read a very interesting article, that proposes the thought that BitCoin is not money, it's the internet of money [theumlaut.com]. If the writer is correct, bitcoin's protocol and scripting system has the potential to break every government's (and banking system's) monopoly on the control of financial transactions. It could have a similar effect on financial transactions to the effects HTML and HTTP have had on information 'ownership' and transfer. IOW, their business models may have already been sunk. This has e

    • by daem0n1x (748565)

      Allowing Internet connectivity reduces the centralized control that a totalitarian Communist system requires in order to protect the leaders and the system itself from the inconvenience of reality.

      It hasn't reduced the protection of our corrupt oligarchy here in the Capitalist world. Quite the opposite, gave them one more tool to spy and control us.

  • Not going to help (Score:1, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638)

    The U.S.. and a bunch of exiles still pissed about losing their wealth from when they were Battista cronies, have a serious hate-on for Cuba. Until the Castros are dead and Cuba is a slathering U.S. lapdog, the U.S. and CIA will actively sabotage any development there.

    • If only i had mod points...
    • by avgjoe62 (558860)

      The U.S.. and a bunch of exiles still pissed about losing their wealth...

      When Pope John Paul II visited Cuba in 1988, he and Fidel Castro went on a boat tour of the harbor in Havana. About half way through the tour, the boat sank. Fidel picked up the pope and carried him back to shore, walking on the water the entire way.

      The next day, the newspaper headline in Tribuna de La Habana read "Castro Displays Superiority of Socialist Man".

      The newspaper headline in L'Osservatore Romano read "Pope Helps Fidel Perform Miracle".

      The newspaper headline in the Miami Herald read "Fid

      • by operagost (62405)
        That would be funny if Fidel Castro had ever accomplished anything except murdering people, stealing property, and fooling a bunch of left-wing Westerners into thinking he had a working Communist paradise.
        • by avgjoe62 (558860)
          I am certainly no fan of Castro's, but I do not blindly hate the man and froth at the mouth every time his name is mentioned. While I do not think it is worth anywhere near the price the people have paid, there are some things that Cuba does get right.

          Look at this page from the CIA World Fact Book [cia.gov] and look at the relative positions of the US and Cuba.

        • by daem0n1x (748565)

          Cuba has a better standard of living than most Latin American counties. And all this despite the stupid, illegal and outrageous US blockade that turns every little thing Cuba wants to do in a painful ordeal.

          You just feel butt-hurt for not having Cuba at your disposal to use as cheap farming ground and brothel.

    • by icebike (68054)

      The U.S.. and a bunch of exiles still pissed about losing their wealth from when they were Battista cronies, have a serious hate-on for Cuba. Until the Castros are dead and Cuba is a slathering U.S. lapdog, the U.S. and CIA will actively sabotage any development there.

      This is idiotic old school thinking.

      Establishing open internet connections changes users perspective, it is seductive beyond any ability to control. China is a perfect example. In spite of having enough people to build and maintain the great firewall of China, it has been largely ineffective, and the people have seen and adopted world views. The entire country has and is changing and even those in power see little point in preventing free access to world news (as long as it doesn't tie to any key hot but

      • by daem0n1x (748565)

        The current regime would last maybe 8 years after that.

        You've been peddling this same bullshit since 59.

        • by icebike (68054)

          How long has Cuba had free access to the internet?

          Way to totally miss the point!

          • by daem0n1x (748565)

            Before the Internet, it was something else. The Cuban regime has been "on the brink of collapse" since I can remember.

            It has survived the fall of the Soviet Union, why do you think it won't survive the Internet?

            • by icebike (68054)

              Because the internet is totally seductive, not to mention incredibly useful, and even people in government begin to change their minds. This already happened in china, and russia, and all the former soviet states. When the leaders themselves change their minds, the rest will follow. Besides, the time is ripe. The old guard is OLD. Raul is 82.

              There are precisely two countries in the world locked into the dictator model of communist states, North Korea, and Cuba, and neither allows their people to see th

              • by daem0n1x (748565)

                What you wrote doesn't make any sense, it's just uninformed speculation and wishful thinking. The Castro brothers are precisely the ones leading the reforms in Cuba.

                As to Russia and China, I fail to see the correlation between Internet access and change of government. The Russian government is in a Medieval conservative rampage, with little opposition. And the Chinese regime enjoys widespread support among the population.

    • by operagost (62405)

      bunch of exiles still pissed about losing their wealth

      The Castros stole the private property of citizens and foreigners, alike.

      Until the Castros are dead and Cuba is a slathering U.S. lapdog

      Nice strawman. Regardless, it would STILL be better for the citizens than what they have now.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Castros stole the private property of citizens and foreigners, alike.

        So did Mao in China. But you don't see the Chinese-exile hate mongering community. They've moved on. Cuban "exiles", on the other hand, would torpedo anything that would improve actual conditions of people in Cuba. Cut your nose off to spite the face kind of a deal.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The U.S.. and a bunch of exiles still pissed about losing their wealth from when they were Battista cronies, have a serious hate-on for Cuba.

      Cuba is an island ninety miles off the US coast whose primary source of income is tourism. How do you propose to keep Cuba from falling back into orbit with the US?

      Venezuela props up the regime, but Venezuela is dead on its feet.

      In early 2013, Venezuela devalued its currency due to growing shortages in the country. The shortages included necessities such as toilet paper, milk, and flour. Fears rose so high due to the toilet paper shortage that the government occupied a toilet paper factory. Venezuela's bond ratings have also decreased multiple times in 2013 due to decisions by the president Nicolas Maduro. One of his decisions was to force stores and their warehouses to sell all of their products, which may lead to even more shortages in the future. Venezuela's outlook has also been deemed negative by most bond-rating services. According to a Johns Hopkins University professor, Venezuela had a 297% implied inflation rate for 2013.

      Venezuela [wikipedia.org]

  • The Cuban Landline (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hadlock (143607) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @03:29PM (#46240237) Homepage Journal

    Cuba recently (last 18 months) had an undersea line laid from Cuba to Venezuela. Previously they could only connect via Satellite link.

    • And they could share the cost of satelite communication with the Bolivian government which just launched it's own satelite.

      And if they start with providing enough connectivity for a couple of business hubs (wich means a couple of ethernet cables and wifi) they could try to use it to boost their economy, and if it works it will pay for itself.
      If it does not work, then they will feel that they do not really need it (and since easy access to youtube and facebook will not really help the common cuban citizen an

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Cuba is a totalitarian communist dictatorship [worldaffairsjournal.org]. That dictatorship has absolutely no interest in a decentralized Internet solution. Cuba's police state was set up by Che Guevara [worldaffairsjournal.org], who modeled it on that of his NKVD/KGB tutor, Lavrenty Beria.

    The communist government has exactly zero interest in "decentralization."

  • For help, Turn to Brazil, not the USA.
  • This is my field... not Cuba, but IT trade in emerging markets. The second link critiquing private infrastructure investment is flawed, kind of stupid, and possibly biased (in favor of government's active participation). Look at the data on the chart and gee, it looks like the emerging markets (the author still uses the word "developing") are way behind. But you have to weight the charts by population... weighted average tells a completely different story. 3B3K (three billion people living in nations

  • by bluegutang (2814641) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @04:38PM (#46240689)

    Cuba is a totalitarian police state [worldaffairsjournal.org]. The problem is not too little infrastructure, it's too much oppression. And I don't see how an initiative like this could change the situation.

  • by Khopesh (112447) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @04:48PM (#46240771) Homepage Journal

    If Cuba built its own onion routing network (perhaps using Tor software though not connected to the Tor network), then each satellite dish or other internet connection would automatically be able to facilitate connectivity for the rest of the network. No need to wire anything (except some of the exit nodes), this can all happen over wifi.

    Don't forget that 802.11af, 802.11y, and 802.22 have ranges measured in miles (802.22 can cover 100km). Blanketing an island of 110km would still take a good number of antennae (especially given the dead zones created by dense buildings in cities), but at a governmental budget scale, it seems quite feasible.

    • by cbeaudry (706335)

      "The island is 1,250 km (780 mi) long and 191 km (119 mi) across its widest points and 31 km (19 mi) across its narrowest points.[1] The largest island outside the main island is the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the southwest, with an area of 2,200 km2 (850 sq mi)."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G... [wikipedia.org]

      • by Khopesh (112447)

        "The island is 1,250 km (780 mi) long and 191 km (119 mi) across its widest points and 31 km (19 mi) across its narrowest points.[1] The largest island outside the main island is the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth) in the southwest, with an area of 2,200 km2 (850 sq mi)." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Cuba [wikipedia.org]

        Sorry, Slashdot killed my squared symbol and I missed it in the content preview. Wikipedia says Cuba is 110 km^2 in area.

        If 802.22 can cover a 100km radius (200km diameter), width isn't an issue. The 1,250km length would need only seven full-powered 802.22 antennae to provide a "backbone" across the main island (1250/200 = 6.25). Maybe each of those can have either a satellite uplink or a wired connection. Surely, another few hundred cheaper and/or lower-powered antennae (perhaps 802.11y or 802.11af?)

  • Wouldn't it face the same issues?

    As far as internet, the people may wish to look at mesh wifi setups.

  • Let's cut to the chase here - the US is not the reason why Cuba's government suppresses human rights and other aspects of modern civilization such as property ownership, education, access to health care, access to food, shelter, travel and freedom of expression. Cuban citizens have few if any rights to protest or challenge government policy. Those that do have historically been beaten, jailed or executed.

    Access to the internet is just the latest example. What Cuba needs is a reformed economy that allows

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