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Cultural center has nation's first free Wi-Fi

By Xinhua in Havana | China Daily | Updated: 2015-03-17 07:58

The Cuban government has allowed the first free, public Wi-Fi service recently at a cultural center in Havana, as it loosens its grip on Internet access in the country.

The cultural center, located in western Havana, is run by a Cuban artist known as Kcho. The Wi-Fi comes from his personal Internet connection and is permitted by the government.

Kcho, 45, pays the cost of the free Wi-Fi service, which allows 15 simultaneous connections.

He did not give an exact amount but said, "It is a bit expensive."

"If we are able to share it, we will share it. That is the idea," said Kcho, whose social action has tremendous recognition in the island. Kcho told Xinhua the project is part of a broad cultural community work.

Kcho, a famous painter in Cuba, is believed to have close ties with the government, as retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro attended the opening of the cultural center in January 2014.

Even though the service is slow compared with that in many other places in the world, the hub is crowded by tech-savvy millennials who use their mobile phones, laptops and tablets to surf the web in a country where Internet access is difficult and expensive.

Jose Daniel Garcia, a medical student and regular visitor at the hub, said, "It is fantastic that anybody can come here and connect free and without restrictions."

"You come here, you sit down and you can enjoy social networks or download some stuff to study," he said.

The network's password in Spanish is aquinoserindenadie, which means "Nobody gives up here," an old revolutionary slogan referring to the island's resistance against the U.S. embargo for over 50 years.

Tamara Lopez, 34, a hairdresser, said it is "a brilliant idea" to have this service.

Sitting in a bench under the shade of a large awning that blocks the burning Caribbean sun, Lopez searched for the new hairdressing trends on her laptop.

Antonio Hermes, who has a technical degree in computer science, said he goes to Kcho's center almost every day to stay connected with his friends.


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