How to get Wi-Fi and Internet in Cuba 2019

wi-wi-and-internet-in-cuba

This is the ultimate guide on how to access Wi-Fi and internet in Cuba, where to get it and how much it costs. 

It’s hard work staying connected to Wi-Fi and internet in Cuba. Compared to how we normally access the internet, Cuba will remind you of the era of dial-up and the pain of phone lines being engaged.

We are so used to our lightening speeds and instant access with 4G, Fibre optic broadband, Wi-Fi hot spots and free Wi-Fi in almost all places we visit but for us, that’s part of the true magic of Cuba.

To “unplug”, forget about calls, texts, email, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, online shopping, Netflix and connect the old-fashioned way.

If the idea of zero connection is making your palms sweaty, read on to find out how to stay connected in Cuba.

Don’t get me wrong there is Wi-Fi and internet in Cuba and you will be able to connect but it is expensive, and the quality is sub-par compared to our usual standards as Wi-Fi speeds across Cuba are slow.

Contents:

  • Connecting to the internet via a Wi-Fi Hotspot
  • How to Connect via your own mobile data
  • Connect via your Hotel or Casa Particular
  • WI-FI safety and using VPN (virtual private network) in Cuba

1. Connect to the internet via a Wi-Fi Hotspot

ETECSA (a government-run company) have hundreds of Wi-Fi spots throughout Cuba and the number of Wi-Fi spots is growing every year and is the most popular way to connect to Wi-Fi.

wifi-hotspot-cuba

Wi-Fi hotspot in Havana

Cuba has been working with Google to add more servers and to increase network connection speeds.

How do I connect to one of these ETECSA Wi-Fi spots I hear you say?

Easy, you will need an ETECSA Wi-Fi card also known as a Nauta card. In order to purchase a Wi-Fi card go to one of the many ETECSA offices located throughout Cuba but be prepared to queue as it can get quite busy and our tip is to buy multiple cards at one time. For a full list of locations click here.

wifi-card-cuba

Front and back Nauta Wi-Fi card

You can buy 3 per person and you have to show a copy of your passport. They come in selections of  30 minutes, 1 hour,  and 5 hours.

Top Tip – Don’t to use a coin to scratch them but instead use the corner of a credit card as they damage easily.

Airports also stock these cards and a lot of hotels now stock them too. They come in the form of a scratch card.

Top Tip – people will try to sell these to you in the street everywhere, often at a marked-up price. Don’t buy them. Do it once properly and buy in bulk.

How much does it cost?

  • 0.50 CUC 30 minutes
  • 1 CUC for 1 hour
  • 5 CUC for 5 hours

Check out this post for currency conversions   Click here

2. Connect via your own mobile data

One option is to buy data before you leave but some providers in Canada, UK, and the USA tend to be very expensive for the amount of data you get and won’t last long in Cuba. Call your mobile provider to see what offers they have regarding Wi-Fi and internet for a Cuba add-on plan.

Your second option is to purchase a Cuban sim card, you will need an unblocked phone operating at 900wz.

You can buy a Cuban sim card in various places including ETECSA offices or at the airport but you will need to register.

estecsa-office-santiago-de-cuba

ETECSA office in Santiago de Cuba

How much does it cost?

To register a sim card will cost 40.00 CUC which includes 10.00 CUC worth of credit.

Data Plans

  • 600 MB for 7.00 CUC
  • 1 GB (1024 MB) 10.00 CUC 
  • 2.5 GB for 20.00 CUC
  • 4 GB for 30.00 CUC

For more details on the different price-plans visit the ETECSA website.

3. Connect via your Hotel or Casa Particular

We are so used to having Wi-Fi and internet as a basic in every form of accommodation we stay in but in Cuba, it’s not a given.

Often the more luxury hotels will give you one hour per day for free (as a resident) and you can buy extra hours with them direct. Hotels often sell Wi-Fi at an overinflated price.

We have seen prices 5x what you would pay from an ETECSA office, but it is easier an more convenient. Also, hotels will be a nice way to access the internet and Wi-Fi, with AC and cocktails on tap maybe poolside if you’re lucky.

Casa Particulars can’t legally have Wi-Fi in the property, but Cuban ingenuity is always at hand. Casa Particular owners will buy signal boosters which extend the Wi-Fi range. You may see these white objects on rooftops, that’s a Wi-Fi booster.

In some Casas, you may find the owners have pre-purchased Wi-Fi cards as a little extra service for you to save the hassle of buying them yourself.

4. WI-FI safety and using VPN (virtual private network) in Cuba

You may want to purchase a VPN for use while you are in Cuba as Some internet sites will not work due to government restrictions.

I personally have a VPN supplied by Norton Antivirus which came in as a package and has proved very useful in Cuba for money transfers and accessing my Gmail account.

It also adds security when searching on unsecured networks such as airport Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi hotspots you may use in Cuba.

Express VPN seems a very popular provider and offers a 1-month subscription which is perfect if you are travelling to Cuba and don’t need this service all year round.

The cost is $12.99 for 1 months use and highly recommended for travel in Cuba.

Watch this video from Express VPN to find out more.

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