Cuba is, by design, one of the most expensive and difficult places in which to communicate.
Accessing the internet in Cuba is unlike any country in the world. The Internet is characterised by a low number of connections, limited bandwidth, censorship, and high cost.
In Cuba, internet is provided by the state telecommunication company ETESCA (under the brand name Nauta) and is only available in airports, upmarket hotels and government communication centres. Finding an upmarket hotel or a government communications centre in major towns is actually fairly easy as you will literally see a large number of locals and tourists on their phones and laptops on the street accessing the WiFi. Be mindful however that this as this is a fairly new system, it has not spread across the whole island. If visiting small, non-tourist towns, don't expect there to be an internet communication centre.
Purchasing a pre-paid scratch card
Before you can connect to the WiFi, you will need to purchase a pre-paid scratch card. The primary way of purchasing a card is at the government communication centre which bares the brand name ETESCA. The cost of a 1 hour scratch card is CUC$2, there also exists a 5 hour scratch card for CUC$10. If you wish to purchase more then one, remember to bring photo identification as the staff member will need to take down your details in order for them to do so. Be aware that queues at the centre tend to be quite lengthy and move fairly slowly.
You can also purchase a Nauta internet card at an upmarket hotel. The price of these cards vary from hotel to hotel and can be anything from cost price (CUC$2) with the purchase of a drink at the bar to upwards of CUC$8. Alternatively, there are also a number of unofficial vendors either on the street or in small discreet shops selling the same Nauta internet cards. Prices for these cards are at a premium compared to the communication centre however almost all will accept CUC$3 after a little bargaining.
Connecting to the WiFi
Once you have purchased the card, it is simply a matter of connecting to the hotspot, scratching your card to reveal the username and password and entering these into the Nauta login screen (which should automatically appear). If the log in screen does not appear automatically (common on some phones and laptops) simply enter 22.214.171.124 into your browser and the Nauta screen will appear.
Once the hour is complete, the internet will stop working and you will need to enter the username and password of a fresh card. On the other hand, if you do not want to use the full hour of the card, be sure to end your session. This can be done by entering 126.96.36.199 into your browser and clicking the end session button.
In the evening between 8 and 10 pm the internet tends to be rather slow as everyone is trying to connect.
The country code for Cuba is 53.
The emergency number is 116. The information number is 113.
To use your cell phone in Cuba, you will need to have a GSM phone operating at 900 MHz (or quad-band world phone). If you plan on using international roaming, be sure to check with you phone company as most providers do not offer roaming in Cuba. Alternatively, you can buy a SIM card for CUC$111, plus your prepaid minutes. If you do not have a phone that operates at 900 MHz, you can rent a phone at several stores in Havana, including one in the airport. The rates are 9 CUC per day (6 CUC for the phone and 3 CUC for the SIM card), plus about 36 cents a minute for prepaid cards.
If you're planning on being in Cuba for more than two weeks, you can bring a phone, buy a SIM card and prepaid minutes, use it, then give the phone to a Cuban friend when you leave. Cellphones are among the most desired items for Cubans (bring a case for the phone too, they are very fussy about keeping their phones scratch-free). You will have to go to a cellphone store with your friend and sign a paper to give the phone to your friend. Don't give your friend an unlimited plan that charges to your credit card!
- Cuba Vision , is the national television station.
- Radio Reloj, broadcasts news 24 hours and states the time every minute on the minute — dos cuarenta y dos minutos...
- Radio Havana Cuba, multi-language shortwave radio station
- Radio Rebelde, another news radio station.
- Cuba Holiday News, online news channel, with selected news for people interested in travelling to Cuba.
- Havana Times, Photos, News Briefs and Features from Havana, Cuba.
- Cuba Headlines, Cuba News Headlines. Cuban Daily News | Cuba News, Articles and Daily Information.
- 14ymedio, the first independent digital media outlet , some articles are also translated into English.
Most of the radio stations are available live online [www].
If you're staying at a hotel or casa particular, it's likely there will be a television, and watching Cuban television is a good place to observe Cuba's unique mix of vibrant culture, sports and controversial politics.
The Cuban telenovelas are one of the state's key instruments for addressing sexual taboos and educating young people about AIDS, for example. The locally produced cartoons are the most interesting and uniquely Cuban. They range from abstract and artsy to informative to entertaining.
The most famous of the genre is the children's program Elpidio Valdés, which chronicles the adventures of a band of rebels in the 19th century revolt against the Spanish. The mix of cartoon slapstick humor and images of violent revolution (dashing revolutionaries stealing rifles, blowing up Spanish forts, and sticking pistols into the mouths of goofy Spanish generals) in a program geared at children is simultaneously delightful and disturbing.
There are classes under the heading "Universidad Para Todos" (University for Everybody) with the purpose to teach Cubans subjects like mathematics and grammar through the television. Also one of the channels is called the "Educational Channel" (Canal Educativo), although this uses "educational" in its widest sense, including foreign soap operas and pop concerts.