Cuba Calling? Not So Fast... - InformationWeek

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Martha Buyer
Martha Buyer

Cuba Calling? Not So Fast...

Lack of infrastructure and enterprise communications capabilities will make a tough go for companies interested in taking advantage of loosening restrictions.

Late last month President Barack Obama announced he would seek to normalize relations with Cuba, laying out a plan to begin the thawing of a long-frosty relationship. While cigar aficionados and others have had stars in their eyes ever since the announcement, the fact remains that one of the areas in which Cuba is most deficient is communications -- both in terms of enterprise communications and the infrastructure necessary to support large- and small-scale communications.

Indeed, the administration has acknowledged that, as much as it's looking forward to the reopening of diplomatic relations, significant hurdles must be overcome within Cuba before more than the most basic of non-Cuban industries will be able to support the kind of communications that drives business. According to the White House, Internet penetration within Cuba is extremely limited, with less than 5% of the nation's population having access to the web. What web access does exist is tightly controlled by the government and used primarily to serve up a national email system, educational and reference materials, and websites supportive of the Cuban government, as discussed in a report compiled by Freedom House.

Wireline and wireless domestic and international communications services in Cuba are extremely limited as well. Deployment of such essential business tools can only come after the infrastructure necessary to support such services is in place, and while the door is open slightly, getting that infrastructure in place remains a challenge.

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