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Cuba: On the Three Days of “Free Internet in Cuba”

Cuba’s state-controlled telecommunications monopoly, Etecsa, asked for people to comment about their third mobile Internet trial, which involved free surfing using a 100Mb data package which was to be used in 72 hours.

I wanted to find out what people’s general opinion was, so I read many of the 1048 comments that had been published up until 18:00 on Etecsa’s website on September 11th. I was going to count how many negative comments there were, but to my surprise, negative comments were the overwhelming majority so I chose to count the positive ones instead. When I had already picked out 30 “positive” comments, I read them again because I hadn’t really defined what counted as positive.

I realized that I was accepting comments from people who still remained optimistic about this service after the trial, I’ll give you some examples:

  • Alejandro Rodriguez Maestreym said: I thought it was all good, I used both packages and then I had problems because I couldn’t sign into my Nauta email account using my mobile data.
  • yo said: slow connection, uff it was really hard to communicate with anyone, I hope it improves. But like Yaisel Lorenso says, you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • Florecita said: Hi, I connected in Santa Clara using a Samsung S5, very shaky connection, slow, etc., but it’s better than nothing.

The filter I was using was too relaxed I thought, so I focused on hunting out those comments that really did express satisfaction or success. I must say that it was difficult to find them, after scouring through the over thousand comments published, I only found three that were truly positive:

  • remigio said: Greetings, it all went wonderfully, total access without any interruptions in the service, at last I was able to fulfill my dream of having internet on my phone. I can’t complain about Etecsa, I don’t know why people say bad things about Etecsa if they don’t have a proper phone. I have a Huawei P20 and I didn’t have any problems.
  • yendrys said: very good, the best, if only we always had the internet on our phones.
  • Carlos Abel said: I connected like a charm! Of course, I have an IPHONE X!! But anyway, the service still needs some tweaks!! !

Taking out the few technical comments on the website, the nearly 1000 remaining comments were like the following:

  • Arian said: Tachycardia, stress, insomnia, moodiness, despair, a desire to throw the mobile phone, etc., etc., etc…
  • Manuel said: A total disaster, no internet, no calls and no SMS messages for 72 hours.
  • Reinaldo Reyes said: It was a disaster, you couldn’t send emails, messages came through hours later, I could only connect for a few seconds, I don’t think we are ready for this service.

In the face of such a huge disaster, I got in touch with a friend who has been working at the company’s headquarters for over 15 years to find out what had happened.

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