The Cuban Government Is Turning Havana’s Malecón Into a Massive Wifi Hotspot

Lead Photo: Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images
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Havana’s Malecón is known across the world as a the symbolic abode of the city’s lovers, dreamers, drinkers, and fishermen. Now we can add instagrammers, snapchatters, and vociferous skypers to the list of staples on Havana’s century-old seawall. This week, the Cuban government announced they would be implementing wifi hotspots across a five mile stretch of the Malecón, spanning the iconic tract of waterfront between Old Havana’s Prado and the Rio Almendares.

The news was broken by Eduardo Monier, Head of Marketing and Communication for Cuba’s state telecomm monopoly, though he did not specify how they planned to deal with the numerous technical challenges presented by the sun and surging salt water along the coast. Assuming they’ve thought these things through, Monier suggested the Malecón would be wired by the close of 2016.

For Habaneros crowded into the handful of hotspots that opened around the city last year, this is huge news. Connectivity has been slow to spread across the island, and high cost of hourly wifi cards (most of which are snatched up by black marketeers and resold for even more inflated prices) keeps the island lagging well behind most of the globalized world.

Bringing this level of connectivity to the Malecón would most certainly take some of the pressure off of the public parks and intersections that are consistently crowded with wifi users. Though, as Habaneros look more toward their phones and less toward the seemingly infinite expanse of ocean unfolding in front of them, the city’s beautiful waterfront may be the next victim of global distraction.