Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cuban mobile Internet prices

Cuban authorities have announced that mobile Internet services will be available on the island soon at a maximum rate of 1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) per megabyte of data transferred. (1 CUC = 1.14 USD).

As far as I know, they have said nothing about the technology (3G or 4G?) or the locations in which it will be available.

But, they did announce the cost, and in case you imagined Cubans streaming Netflix movies or Pandora songs to their mobile phones. let's look at the cost of doing so at the published rate:

These are Apple's conservative file size estimates.

(Lest you consider the Cuban costs outrageous, consider that, if Apple had charged the same rate for song downloads as your friendly US phone company was charging for text message bits a few years ago, a song would have cost you $5,486).

Mobile Internet access at these prices are well beyond the means of ordinary Cubans even if they only do a little Web browsing and email. In the past, the Cuban government has justified high Internet prices by saying they were needed to ration scarce international satellite bandwidth, but, now that the ALBA 1 undersea cable is operating, what is the justification for these prices?

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