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Cubans to finally have access to mobile internet

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HAVANA -- Cubans will be offered full internet access on their mobile phones beginning Thursday, the state telecom monopoly's president said.

Mayra Arevich, the head of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba, or ETECSA, said in a televised announcement Tuesday that citizens will be "gradually and progressively" given access to mobile data.

Four mobile data packages will be available but only for devices with 3G technology, ETECSA said in a statement.

"Cuba must buy telecommunications infrastructure in dollars and with all the limitations imposed by the embargo," Arevich said, referring to U.S.-imposed trade and travel restrictions that were eased under the Obama administration before being recently reimposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

One of the world's least-connected countries has seen a gradual expansion of public access to the internet via telecom monopoly ETECSA since 2015, internet freedoms watchdog Freedom House found.

But "penetration rates and internet speeds continue to lag behind regional averages, and access to the global internet in Cuba is extremely restricted, due to high prices and government regulation of access points," according to November's report.

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President Miguel Diaz-Canel in October became Cuba's first leader to join social media, and expressed the intention to boost the use of new technologies and social media in the country.

There has been speculation over the extent that Diaz-Canel will carry out reforms after he took over in April from Raul Castro, brother to the late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, whose family had ruled the island since 1959.

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