Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The short and long term future of the Cuban Internet

I gave a talk on the short and long term future of the Cuban Internet at the Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy.

For the short run, I talked about things that are announced and underway -- expansion of public access and connecting schools, universities and homes as well as the possibility of satellite as an unlikely, but feasible means of interim connectivity.

I pointed out several characteristics of these short run projects -- they rely on a backbone network, China has been the preferred vendor nation so far and the quantity and quality of connectivity are far short of what we experience in developed nations. Even with the currently planned expansion, the Cuban Internet will remain in the 1990s.

For the long term, I pointed out that Cuba has the opportunity to skip technology generations and consider things like low-earth orbiting satellite, 5G wireless and advances in short range wireless.

That being said, long run policies regarding infrastructure ownership and regulation are more important than long run technology options. I suggested several ownership/regulation paradigms found around the world today and I encourage Cuba to consider them carefully.

In the middle of the talk, I took a brief digression to point out that two of the presenters in my session had been instrumental in bringing the Internet to Cuba and a third pioneer was in the audience.

When does the "long term" begin? It's a vague term, but by 2020 we will have a new Cuban government, the US embargo may be history and the Cuban economy will hopefully have improved significantly. Cuba should be in a better position to build a modern Internet by then.

The presentation consists of 26 slides in the style I prefer -- an image with a few words, accompanied by notes and annotation. The annotation both explains the point the slide is making and provides links to sources and more information. You can download the PowerPoint presentation here.

Here are a couple of the slides:

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