How Cubans Are Using Their Country's First WiFi Hotspots

These hotspots are often inconvenient, and they're not free. But for many Cubans, they provide a vital window to the outside world.

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Oct 5 2016, 4:00am

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It's not easy to get on the internet in Cuba. For decades, the island has been one of the least-connected countries in the world—less than 30 percent of the population had internet access in 2014. But in 2015, Cuba introduced 35 public WiFi hotspots across the country where, for the first time, people could get online on the go.

It's still not easy, and it's not free: You have to pay roughly $2 to log on, get an access code, and hope that the network isn't overloaded with all the other people crowded around. But for many Cubans, it's the first glimpse into the world online.

Photographer Maureen Muse visited the five WiFi hotspots in Havana and captured the scene around them. She took portraits of tourists posting photos to Instagram, students working on their laptops, doctors checking their email, and countless others enjoying the recent arrival of the internet. As people huddled around these WiFi hotspots for hours, she watched the spaces transform into social areas, where teenagers watched viral videos together and family members skyped loved ones abroad.

See more of Maureen Muse's photography on her website and Instagram.

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