By the Caribbean Journal staff
Cuba’s government is planning to open 118 new public Internet access points, it announced Tuesday.
The decision to open the access points, which will open on June 4, was published in the Official Gazette on Monday.
Cubans will also be able to purchase their own email addresses, under the nauta.cu domain.
The service will be operated through the Nauta brand of the state-run Telecommunications Company of Cuba.
Accessing the points will cost approximately 60 cents per hour. the government said. International email accounts will be able to send and receive messages, with a capacity of just 50 megabytes.
Cuba said the increased access was made possible because of the fibre-optic cable running between Cuba and Venezuela.
While Cuba first went online in 1996, internet access has remained available only to a select few in the country.
A well-known Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez, began her work by sneaking into hotels in the country to use the Internet by posing as a tourist.
In a posting on Twitter, Sanchez questioned the authenticity of the announcement.
“The government of Cuba is a specialist in making headlines,” she wrote. “This ‘Cuba opens up the Internet’ is one of them.”
Earlier this month, Roots of Hope, a US-based organization committed to increased technology access, had called for greater access to information and technology in Cuba. Its call followed comments by Miguel Diaz-Canel, the First Vice President of Cuba’s Council of State, who had called into question the possibility of prohibiting information on the internet.
Currently, around 5 percent of Cubans have access to the internet.