Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Cuban National Assembly has approved a new law designed to attract foreign investment. This BBC report summarizes the changes in policy and this Reuters article is a bit more skeptical, giving examples of problems encountered by previous investors. (The law was passed unanimously -- compare that to proceedings in the US Congress -- the Cuban approach does have some advantages :-).

What does this mean for the Internet, if anything? Cuba bought out Telecom Italia's interest in ETECSA in 2011, but the government does not seem to have anywhere near the capital necessary to build modern Internet infrastructure. Might ETECSA be open to new foreign investment?

Today, ETECSA, is jointly owned by Rafin, S. A. and the Ministry of Information and Communication. I do not understand Rafin or their relationship to ETECSA, but they are not a foreign investor. It is hard to imagine a foreign investor willing to partner with both the government and Rafin in view of the government's ambivalence about freedom of communication.

I've proposed investment in low cost satellite connectivity, which could be afforded by the Cuban government, perhaps partnering with a US satellite partner, but that is a no-go if the government fears open communication more than it values its economic and social payoff. (I've been led to believe -- off the record -- that such a deal would be approved in the US).

I will be surprised if this change in foreign investment policy has any impact on the Internet, but you never know.

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