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Submission + - From a Hole in Space to Cuba's WiFi hotspots

lpress writes: Cuba has opened 35 public-access WiFi hotspots. They are slow and expensive, but people are using them to communicate with friends and family. This is reminiscent an often overlooked, pioneering project. In 1980, artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz created a "Hole in Space" by connecting larger-than-life displays in New York and Los Angeles with a satellite feed. It was the mother of all video chats, demonstrating that electronic communication could convey presence and emotion. We should re-create Holes in Space using modern technology.

Comment Re:What will be funny... (Score 1) 109

Is when the average Cuban has better bandwidth than the average US Citizen because they actually decided to build infrastructure

That will take a while -- Cuba is one of the least connected countries in the world and they are making a big deal of making slow DSL "available" to half their homes by 2020.

That being said, there are good reasons for them to remain independent -- I wouldn't wish Comcast or TWC on anyone.

Comment Re:China learned the foreign aid lesson from the U (Score 1) 109

Then the common people will see Chinese companies and workers building infrastructure for their benefit, generating goodwill.

The Chinese role in Cuba has been different than in Africa, where Chinese companies and Chinese workers build roads, etc. The Chinese were involved in financing and installing Cuba's udersea cable, but on the island China has been an equipment vendor with Cubans installing and running the networks.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn the details of this successful "bid" may include 100% financing by China, probably at low interest, so Cuba don't have to pay a dime upfront.

China has at times had problems collecting Cuban debt. (See the Wikileak quote in the post; however, it has been reported that they lent the money for the undersea cable then participated in its installation. That does sound like the US -- give or loan money to be used to purchase products from US companies. A sweet deal for the US companies.

Submission + - Cuban infrastructure investment -- China won the first round

lpress writes: The US would like to sell Cuba Internet service and equipment, but we have had little success so far. China has won the first round — they financed and installed Cuba's undersea cable, supplied backbone equipment and public WiFi access centers and will provide equipment for the forthcoming home DSL rollout. That being said, Cuba has very little connectivity today and most of what they have and plan to install is already obsolete by today's standards, so they will be buying a lot of equipment in the future.

Submission + - Google News is redundant and favors large sites

lpress writes: Google News, Alerts and search are discovering redundant articles on large news sites and they miss the in-depth expertise of focused, long-tail news sources. For example, copies of a recent Bloomberg post on the Internet in Cuba were posted with slight modification on at least 18 news sites. The copies had the same body text as the orginal, but the "splash" photo was changed, the section sub-headings deleted, a chart removed and errors in the ortginal were not corrected. Google Alerts discovered at least 6 of those copies. Does ad-supported, algorithm-driven news discovery inevitably lead to redundant, derivative news and news-site consolidation?

Comment Re:Google Fi Access Points (Score 1) 198

That's more likely what they're doing. Seeing how far they can expand the Fi network.

In what sense does this let them expand the Fi network? Maybe they could do a deal with an ISP like Comcast to let them do public facing access over home routers (, but why would an ISP go for that?

Submission + - Google's OnHub WiFi router is a strategic product

lpress writes: Last quarter, Google made $16 billion on advertising and $1.7 billion on "other sales." I don't know how "other sales" breaks down, but a chunk of that is hardware devices like the Pixel Chromebook, Chromecast, Next thermostat, Nexus phone and, now, WiFi routers. Does the world need another $200 home router? Why would Google bother? I can think of a couple of strategic reasons — they hope it will become a home-automation hub (competing with the Amazon Echo) and it will enable them to dynamically configure and upgrade your home or small office network for improved performance (hence more ads).

Comment Re:A "phone" is already obsolete. (Score 1) 138

That is true for the US and a lot of other places, but Cuba has very little IP connectivity today so their 2G phones are still useful. In my post, I was suggesting that in perhaps five years they would be able to ditch their 2G phones and not bother with obsolete phones beyond that. Check the graph in my post for confirmation of your contention that "phones" are obsolete.

Comment Re:People have to be careful (Score 0) 138

Let's be honest, US has only brought Cuba back in to the peace because of the current geo-political situation.

I disagree that it is the only reason, but think that fear of the growing influence of China in Cuba and Latin America is a motivating factor. (The State Department denies this by the way).

Comment Re:4G LTE is the way to go, not waiting for magic (Score 1) 138

My concern with LTE is that Cuba is a poor country and, in order to install ubiquitous LTE, they would need a lot of foreign investment in return for control and profits to the investor. I am not a big fan of, say, Verizon or Orange. By 2020, the Cuban economy will be in better shape, there will be newer technology and the US embargo will probably be history. Can they get by with expanded WiFi for mobile access and their current 2G phone system until then? Also, it is not clear that with the current government and economy that they could find an investor.

Submission + - Can Cuba skip cell phone connectivity?

lpress writes: Cuba has a second generation cellular network and Internet access is limited to about 5% of the population via work and school accounts and (mostly dial up) access in a few homes, so it was big news when they rolled out 35 public WiFi hotspots. Can they expand this public WiFi and skip 3G and 4G cell infrastructure until 5G equipment is available in about five years? By then, the US trade embargo will be gone, the Cuban economy will be improved and 5G and other wireless technologies will be available. Will they even need cell phone capability by then?

Submission + - Bitcoin comes to Cuba

lpress writes: Cuba has two paper currencies — the Peso and the Convertible Peso or CUC. CUCs are worth about $1 and Pesos, which are used for government salaries, are worth about $.04. But, what about Bitcoin? The first Cuban Bitcoin transaction is history. Will Bitcoin be used by Cubans and Americans to sell goods and services without the knowledge of their governments? Cuban offshore developers might be the first to use Bitcoin.

Submission + - Wired and wireless LANs in Cuba

lpress writes: Cuba has developed a hacker/maker culture out of necessity and neighborhood local area networks are one manifestation of that culture. The networks are used for file sharing, game playing, and discussion of sports, culture, technology, etc., but not politics. We all stand to benefit from Cuban innovation.

Submission + - Cuban traffic has shifted from satellite to undersea cable

lpress writes: Nearly all of Cuba's international traffic is now routed over the ALBA-1 undersea cable, which connects Cuba and Venezula. The cable landing is at the east end of the island, so there must be a backbone connecting major cities to it. Huawei is installing home DSL and WiFi hotspotsi in Cuba — have they also installed an inter-province backbone?

Submission + - Cuba connecting universities with fiber

lpress writes: Two Cuban universities have fiber links and fiber connections will be available to all Cuban universities in January 2016. One of the currently connected universities is in the west, near Havana (satellite ground station) and one in the east, near the undersea cable landing. Are these the early stages of a fiber backbone? Cuba will use Chinese equipment for DSL to the home and Wifi access points. I wonder if Chinese equipment is being used in these fiber links. If so, how is Cuba paying for it and what, if anything, are they giving up? Oh — and where does that leave US vendors?

It was kinda like stuffing the wrong card in a computer, when you're stickin' those artificial stimulants in your arm. -- Dion, noted computer scientist