Monday, January 19, 2015

The Internet press hypes Cuban WiFi access

Poster with WiFi announcement at the Technology Center (14ymedio)

While I was on vacation it was widely reported that ETECSA would be providing megabyte (megabit?) per second WiFi Internet access in Santiago de Cuba for $4.50 per hour. ETECSA subsequently issued a clarification, saying they would be providing WiFi access to the Cuban intranet at no cost.

The initial reports were all based on a 3-sentence post on the Web site of the Cuban Journalist's Union.

The rapid spread of this semi-correct story is a product of click-hungry Internet "journalism" -- contrast that with the reporting a few days later by Yosmany Mayeta Labrada on the 14ymedio site. (English translation).

The initial reporting was not only opportunistic -- Cuba has been in the news lately -- it was uncritical. One would expect the Internet Press to recognize that a few WiFi access points with 1 megabyte per second back-haul speed at a cost of $4.50 per hour is neither Big News nor the sign of a major shift in Cuban Internet policy.

This is the same fallacy as in the sad case of Alan Gross. Gross was convicted of bringing equipment into Cuba that, had he succeeded, would have made no significant difference. That project cost the American tax payers millions of dollars and provided the Cuban government with a propaganda "threat" that it has grossly overstated.

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