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    A car with a Cuban flag is parked near Cuban Capitol in Havana December 18, 2014. Cuban President Raul Castro hailed a landmark exchange of prisoners with the United States on Wednesday and praised U.S. President Barack Obama as the two countries agreed to normalize relations after more than five decades of hostility

    Cuba to Provide Open Wi-Fi Service for First Time

    © REUTERS / Enrique De La Osa
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    Internet access in Cuba has always been restricted by tough control measures. It can be granted to individuals only after the government’s approval.

    MOSCOW, January 11 (Sputnik) — Cuba is going to start providing its residents with open Wi-Fi, a service that has been earlier available only for mass media employees, governmental officials and medical workers, according the website of the Union of Cuban Journalists reported.

    "Santiago (de Cuba) has been picked by Etecsa to test wifi service late this month," the website reported.

    Shamans holding posters of U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuba's President Raul Castro, perform a ritual of predictions for the new year at Agua Dulce beach in Lima December 29, 2014
    © REUTERS / Enrique Castro-Mendivil
    The internet in Cuba has been always characterized by a high level of control, with Cubans having to ask for a special permission from the Communications Ministry, AFP reported. Internet connections are available at special public spots, but are quite expensive and provided on a pay-by-hour basis.

    According to the journalists’ website, the internet access will now be provided for residents of Cuba's second-largest city, Santiago de Cuba. However, the internet access will cost $4.5 an hour – a very high prize for ordinary people, who have a salary about 20$ per month.

    Since December, as the US and Cuba announced the reestablishment of their diplomatic relations, many Cubans hoped for an improvement of living standards, business development and modernization of economy. The relief of internet control may be considered a first step towards modernization of society in the country, where only 3.4 percent of families have access to internet services.

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