Internet Diffusion Summary, Cuba

Rated by: Larry Press,
Rated on: October, 1997
This summary presents:

  1. Dimension Values
  2. Justificaton of Dimension Values
  3. Important Determinants and their Impact
  4. Dimension Value Predictions

1. Dimension Values





Geographic Dispersion


Sectoral Absorption


Connectivity Infrastructure


Organizational Infrastructure


Sophistication of Use


2. Justificaton of Dimension Values

Pervasiveness: Cuban IP connectivity is minimal, with perhaps as few as 100 users. Even if we were to include UUCP email accounts, there are less than 1/1,000 population, therefore Cuba is at the experimental level. However, it is noteworthy that email use extends well beyond the network technician community.

Geographic Dispersion: The only IP point of presence offering network connectivity in Cuba is at CENIAI in Havana. If; however, we consider email connectivity, we find access in every province and nearly every municipality. So, while Cuba must be rated at the single location level because of limited IP, they are clearly interested in geographic dispersion.

Sectoral Absorption: IP connectivity is rare in the health and government sectors, and nonexistent in education and commerce, giving Cuba a rare overall ranking. On the other hand, UUCP-based email is used in the health sector throughout the nation, more than 10% of the ministries have email accounts, and the YCCs (education sector) are nationwide.

Connectivity Infrastructure: While Cuba has an international IP link, they have no domestic backbone and barely any leased line access, placing them at the low end of level 1 on this dimension. They are severely hampered here by poor telephone infrastructure and their historical concentration on X.25.

Organizational Infrastructure: While not independent businesses, CENIAI and Teledatos are both in the business of providing connectivity to organizations with networks, and there is some degree of competition between them (either by design or historical development). There is also a degree of coordination provided by the Inter-ministerial Commission for Networking. On this basis, we can rank Cuba at the controlled level.

Sophistication of Use: As there is little IP connectivity, Cuba must be ranked at the minimal level here; however, email and information retrieval from email-driven servers have reached the conventional level in the health care and biotechnology communities.

3. Important Determinants and their Impact

Determining Factor

Dimensions most directly affected

Poor telephone infrastructure

Pervasiveness, geographic dispersion, connectivity infrastructure, and sophistication of use are all inhibited due to the difficulty in connecting end users and networks.

Difficulty attracting capital

Connectivity infrastructure cannot be improved without capital.

Cultural values stressing health, education and equality

Health and educational sectoral absorption is emphasized as is geographic dispersion outside the capital.

Centralized planning

Organizational infrastructure (the Inter-ministerial Commission) is formulated and pervasiveness is reduced due to planning delays.

Concern for national security given US hostility

Pervasiveness is reduced by access restriction.

Protection of embargoed business activity

Pervasiveness is reduced by content restriction.

Propaganda to and from US

Pervasiveness is reduced by content and access restriction.

Threat of use by subversive organizations

Pervasiveness is reduced by access restriction.

Non-commercial economy

Commercial sectoral absorption is inhibited as resources are shifted elsewhere.

Populist history

In seeking to server rural areas and small towns, geographic dispersion is increased and connectivity infrastructure extended outside the capital.

Emphasis on human capital

Education sector absorption is increased.

4. Dimension Value Predictions

Pervasiveness: Internet access in Cuba is restricted by policy, but if that limitation were lifted tomorrow, the level of penetration would remain low. In today's economy, few Cuban's could afford either computers or Internet accounts, and the telecommunication infrastructure could not support widespread access.

Geographic dispersion: As long as the present regime remains in power, atypical emphases on geographic dispersion is likely.

Sectoral absorption: As long as the present regime remains in power, atypical emphasis in the health, education, and government sectors relative to the commercial sector is likely.

Connectivity infrastructure: Connectivity infrastructure is severely constrained by the poor telecommunication infrastructure. Significant investment will be needed to modernize it, and it is not likely that that will occur rapidly under the current regime.

Organizational infrastructure: Today networking organizations are controlled by the Ministries of CITMA and SIME, and CITMA seems to have taken the lead, and oversight is provided by the Inter-ministerial Commission. Perhaps the most likely change is that the Ministry of Telecommunication, through ETECSA, may also become an internet service provider. Other vendors may be invited in (possibly by these Ministries) in order to attract capital.

Sophistication of use: It will be some time before Cuban applications become more sophisticated, as this will require greater pervasiveness.