Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cuban ICT statistics report for 2016

I look at the ICT statistics reported annually by ONEI, the Cuban Office of statistics and information, every year. This table shows the Internet-related statistics from the latest report:

And this table shows the percent changes over the years:

The first thing I noticed was that the number of "Internet" users increased by 15.8%. I assume that much of that increase and that of the previous year was due to the opening of public access navigation rooms and WiFi hotspots.

I put "Internet" in quotes because the index is not defined. Given its magnitude, I assume that it combines users with access to the internal Cuban intranet and those with access to the global Internet. Furthermore, it is not clear who they are counting as a "user." Does it include anyone who has purchased access time once during the year, people who theoretically have access to the intranet at work or school, etc.? It is customary for statistical agencies to publish appendices with definitions of their indices, but I have not seen one for these statistics. (I'd love a copy of the index definitions if someone has it).

Note that the user increase is only a little over half the increase during the previous year. My guess is that is because a large portion of the first-year WiFi users were highly motivated "early adopters" who continue to use public access points. They were joined this year by people who did not log on until a location opened up near them, they heard about the Internet by word of mouth or perhaps only got a WiFi equipped device this year.

The number of computers increased by 7.6% with 15.1% more of those on the network. "Computer" is not defined, but this increase might reflect laptops, tablets and perhaps phones which people have acquired in order to use the WiFi hotspots.

The number of mobile accounts increased sharply, but, as with network users, the rate of increase was substantially lower than the previous year. The percent of the population with mobile coverage is unchanged, so the total number of mobile base stations has probably remained abourt the same as it was last year. That being said, we know that there are 879 mobile base stations in Cuba and 358 of them have been upgraded to support third generation communication. The number of users with 3G compatible phones is unknown.

The number of names registered under the .cu top-level domain actually decreased, an inidication that new enterprises are registering under top level domains like .com or .co.

For further discussion of the trends noted in this year's report, check our summary of last year's report.

Update 8/5/2017

For further discussion of related topics, see this post on a talk on Internet status by Cuba's Minister of Communication. In the post, I comment briefly on the following points made by the Minister:
  • They are working on a new regulatory and legal framework.
  • They are assembling tablets and laptops running the Cuban operating system, Nova.
  • A computer science professional society was created.
  • In 2016, 3,330 new data links were established to national agencies and institutions and the bandwidth to these organizations increased by 72 percent.
  • There are now 879 mobile base stations in Cuba, 358 of which support third generation (3G) mobile service.
  • There are over 630 public access navigation rooms and 370 WiFi access points.
  • There are 4.3 million mobile "lines.”
  • Four million users have access to the “Internet,” roughly one million through permanent accounts.
  • Their home broadband service has about 600 subscribers and they realize that it is not the solution for mass access to the Internet.
  • Mass deployment will come from wireless services.
  • International bandwidth doubled in 2016 from 4Gb/s to 8 Gb/s.

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