CUBA BUSINESS NEWS: TOURISM, INFRASTRUCTURE, ENERGY AND FINANCE
Cuban telecom company, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) adding new public wifi zones
On 24 November 2015, Cuba’s Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (Etecsa) rolled out four additional public wifi zones, bringing the total number to fifty. The newest places to get public wifi are Rubén Bravo Park in Holguín, Calixto García Park in Guisa, Granma, along with two locations in Havana: Parque Mónaco, in the municipality of 10 de Octubre and the Expocuba central pavilion. By the end of 2015 Etecsa expects to turn on at least five more public wifi zones.
Cuba and U.S. government sign environmental cooperation treaty
Cuba’s Ambassador to the U.S. signed an environmental protection treaty with a representative from the U.S. State Department in Washington, DC, on 24 November 2015. In the pact, the U.S. and Cuba agree to facilitate the movement of equipment and teams of people as well as exchange information to better protect coastal areas, including at-risk marine species. The treaty also outlines that the countries are prepared to cooperate to mitigate the effects of climate change, pollution or disasters that impact the sea and coastal environments between Cuba and the U.S.
Cuban energy and electricity plan on track for completion by 2016
The Unión Eléctrica (UNE) in Cuba indicated that plans to bring electricity to every community in Cuba by the end of 2016 are on track. On 24 November 2015, UNE Director Ramón López Ramos asserted that through October, they had completed 70 percent of their plans for 2015 to connect 5,600 households in 177 towns. They have also installed 60 single-home photovoltaic or solar panel systems and plan to reach 600 by the end of the year, in coordination with the Empresa Grupos Electrógenos de Montaña, according to Osvaldo Rodríguez Reyes, part of the UNE’s renewable energy team. The UNE is also upgrading old unsteady powerlines known as tendederas to more modern transmission lines, with 23,000 of the 160,000 tendederas upgraded this year.
Top messaging app Zapya, cause for concern at Cuban schools
As the number of smartphone owners grows, but internet service remains limited, file-sharing and messaging app Zapya, has become the top choice for young Cubans to communicate. Yet in November 2015, interviews at a number of Cuban schools revealed concern that Zapya is contributing to an epidemic of cheating. Young people on the other hand, see the service, which has some offline functionality as essential. Many expect that in 2016, Cuba will see an avalanche of new applications and services, including streaming services for people who can pay for internet. However, the number of people who have experience in network security and maintenance is low, so offline solutions are, for now, a safe bet. For their part, teachers report that holding oral exams is the most sure-fire way to eliminate Zapya-supported cheating.