Cuban home connectivity prices leaked (with a tidbit at the end of the post)

Diario de Cuba reported that Etecsa will begin selling home Internet connectivity in September. Prime time prices will be:

The night time price (8PM - 7AM) will be 20 CUC for 90 hours, with a charge of 20 convertible centavos per hour after the limit is exceeded.

Access to the Cuban intranet will cost less, but they did not give prices.

They reported that ADSL service will be available in some areas, but said nothing about where. My guess is that most users will be restricted to dial up connections. It also remains to be seen which, if any, Web sites will be blocked.

At these prices, there will be a lot of overhead slack for home owners to sign up for a plan then resell access to others.

Here is the interesting tidbit:

The post shifts topics near the end, with a brief undersea cable discussion, saying that an unnamed ETECSA official said that the US Government had approved an $18 million proposal for an undersea cable connection between Florida and Cuba in 2010. Cuba opted instead for the $70 million ALBA-1 cable.

Has the US approval been documented? If Cuba did in fact turn it down in favor of ALBA-1 (or both), one cannot help suspecting corruption.

Update 3/9/2014

Etecsa has announced yet another expensive service, mobile intranet email for 1 CUC per megabyte sent or received.

Protecting Consumers From Identity Theft and Scams

Posted by Sheily Chhabria, Head of Strategic Operations, Product Quality Operations

Keeping your information safe and secure is one of Google’s top priorities and to celebrate National Consumer Protection Week we wanted to share a few things that we do to help protect you and your information from harm on the web.

Google scans the web to find the most useful and interesting content to display in your search results, but while we’re looking for all that good stuff, we sometimes find sites or links that seem unsafe - that might be set up to steal your information or silently take over your computer. We identify about 10,000 of these bad sites daily and if you try and visit a site that is unsafe, we show warnings like the one below.   

These warnings help you avoid sites containing software that might steal your personal information or harm your computer.

These warnings appear on millions of Google Search results and we also make information about these unsafe sites available to other companies and developers so that users on many services, not just Google, can be protected from harm. This work helps protect you and about one billion other internet users from these types of sites .

If one of these bad sites did manage to steal your sensitive information, like your social security numbers or driver’s license, and published it on the web, you can report it to Google to have your information taken out of our Search results. We also follow this process for sensitive financial information like credit card numbers or bank account numbers.

Google also has strict policies about the kinds of goods and services that can be advertised using our ad systems and on our publisher network. For example, we don’t allow ads for certain types of things that might harm your computer or cost you money, like malicious downloads, or ads for products or services with unclear billing practices, like hidden costs. We also don’t allow ads with misleading claims (“lose weight guaranteed!”), for counterfeit goods, or fraudulent work-at-home scams (“make a million dollars an hour - from your kitchen!”). 

Misleading ad screenshot .jpg
We don’t allow scammy ads that mislead consumers

In 2013 alone we removed more than 350 million bad ads from our systems and banned more than 270,000 advertisers from using Google’s ad services. We proactively look for these ads to keep them off our systems, and listen to feedback from consumers if they tell us an ad is no good. In fact, you can report scams, inappropriate content or bad behavior using some of the safety tools that are built into many Google products.  

Technology is complicated, but thankfully you don’t have to be a computer scientist to help protect yourself online. The Google Safety Center has advice and tips from security experts on the simple things you can do to protect yourself and your family from online threats like identity theft or scams. And if you’re looking for a way to celebrate along with us this week, please check out our blog post series on quick steps you can take to help improve your online safety and security. You can also get more information, videos and advice from some of the many consumer protection organizations celebrating this week, such as the Federal Trade Commission,  the National Association of Attorneys General and many individual State Attorneys General, and the Better Business Bureau.

Is the U. S. blocking Cuban Internet access?

In a recent post, I looked into the charge that Coursera had blocked access to their educational material at the request of the U. S. Government. Subsequently, Cartas Desde Cuba charged that the US Government had ordered satellite ISPs to block access to Cuban accounts.

I followed up on these and this is what I found:

The U. S. Treasury Department denies asking satellite ISPs to block access to customers in Cuba and Cartas Desde Cuba did not reply to my email asking for the source of their report. That leaves me with no reason to believe the charge that satellite ISPs were told to cut off Cuban accounts.

Coursera is one of three prominent U. S. sources of massive, online educational material. I followed up with the other two, edX and Uacity, to see if they had been told to block access to their material:

EdX: They applied for a Treasury Department license without being asked to and it was granted (after seven months).

Udacity: Google serves their material, and as far as they know, it is not blocked. I asked Google, but they did not reply. (Google never replies to me).

Coursera: They were asked by the Treasury Department to block access, but they are seeking a license to serve blocked nations.

Overall, the Treasury Department seems willing to grant these licenses (as with edX), but evidently wants to review each case (as with Coursera). Either way, the process takes a long time. Furthermore, how many organizations unilaterally censor themselves in order to avoid problems? This feels more like bureaucratic rust than an intentional policy, but blocking or delaying access to free educational material is a bad idea -- they should clarify the policy.

How does one post material on the Cuban "sneaker net?"

Warhol P has written a Havana Times post on the Cuban "sneaker net" -- the circulation of movies, TV shows, software, etc. on flash and hard disk drives.

He reports prices of 50 Cuban Pesos (around $2) for 80 to 500 gigabytes of material and 10 Cuban Pesos for 8 to 16 gigabytes. (These days one can get 64GB USB-2 flash drives for under $30 and 128 GB drives for under $50).

Warhol P says home delivery service is available and some consumers go to the home of the supplier to put together a package in accordance with their preferences. Other suppliers rent out hard drives for three to four days for a little over 4.00 Cuban Convertible Pesos (around $4).

But I have a question -- how does one gain access to the sneaker net? For example, I have developed some Spanish language tech teaching material for young people. It is under Creative Commons license and I'd be happy to see it distributed in Cuba. I'd also like to see the Khan Academy teaching material distributed in Cuba using KA Lite, a packaging of the Khan Academy content for use off line.

Are the sneaker net distributions put together in the US? Are they pretty much only entertainment and software or are they open to other types of material? Is there a way to submit material for inclusion?