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Cuba lifts ban on Home Computers

100°
347w ago - The first legalised home computers have gone on sale in Cuba, but a ban remains on internet access. This is the latest in a series of restrictions on daily life which President Raul Castro has lifted in recent weeks.

Crowds formed at the Carlos III shopping centre in Havana, though most had come just to look. The desktop computers cost almost $800 (£400), in a country where the average wage is under $20 (£10) a month.

But some Cubans do have access to extra income, much of it from money sent by relatives living abroad. Since taking over the presidency in February, Raul Castro has ended a range of restrictions and allowed Cubans access to previously banned consumer goods.

In recent weeks thousands of Cubans have snapped up mobile phones and DVD players. But only now have the first computer stocks arrived.

Internet access remains restricted to certain workplaces, schools and universities on the island.

The government says it is unable to connect to the giant undersea fibre-optic cables because of the US trade embargo. All online connections today are via satellite which has limited bandwidth and is expensive to use.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, Cuba's ally and a critic of the US, is laying a new cable under the Caribbean.

It remains...
 

Cuba lifts curbs on Mobile Phones

50°
352w ago - Cubans are to be allowed unrestricted access to mobile phones for the first time, in the latest reform announced under new President Raul Castro.

In a statement in official newspaper Granma, state telecom monopoly ETECSA said it would offer mobile services to the public in the next few days.

Some Cubans already own mobile phones, but they have had to acquire them via a third party, often foreigners.

Cuba's rate of cell phone usage remains among the lowest in Latin America.

Now Cubans will be able to subscribe to pre-paid mobile services under their own names, instead of going through foreigners or in some cases their work places.

However, the new service must be paid for in foreign currency, which will restrict access to wealthier Cubans.

Reforms

ETECSA says the revenues will be used to fund telecommunications development in Cuba.

Two weeks ago, a ban on a wide range of consumer electrical appliances was lifted, after Raul Castro said in his inaugural speech as president that he would act to ease some of the restrictions on Cubans' daily lives.

Tight restrictions remain in place on internet access in homes and on foreign travel.

Raul, 76, was selected as president in February, after the retirement...
 
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