CARIBBEAN: Cuba launches 1st public Wi-Fi hotspots on Havana avenue

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CARIBBEAN: Cuba launches 1st public Wi-Fi hotspots on Havana avenue

HAVANA (AP) — Cuban authorities have launched public Wi-Fi hotspots along a main avenue that is the heart of Havana’s cultural and social life, the first step in government promises to gradually roll out such connectivity options on an island that the Internet revolution has largely passed by.

Authorities have been installing the boxy white routers on buildings along 23rd Street in the Vedado theater, nightclub and business district in recent weeks, and they apparently went live Wednesday night.

Dozens of people, many of them young, sat on stairs and stoops tapping away at smartphones, tablets and laptops Thursday on the street known locally as “The Ramp” for its gentle uphill slope from the sea.

Angel Padron, a 16-year-old who lives a few steps off 23rd Street, called the signal speed “acceptable,” robust enough to load videos on YouTube.

“Before I used to have to go to the hotels,” Padron said, referring to one of the few sources of wireless in the country, and where an hour online can cost a third of what most Cubans make in a month. “It’s like they’ve put this in my living room, given me wings to fly around the Internet.”

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