Tech by VICE

Cuba Has Netflix Now, But It Will Cost 40% of the Average Salary to Get It

The company announced it will be available in Cuba for $7.99 a month starting today.

by Kari Paul
Feb 9 2015, 4:25pm

​​Andrzej Wrotek/Flickr

​Netflix announced Monday it will expand its service to Cuba, part of the latest easing of the country's restrictive internet policies since its unexpected reopening of diplomatic relations with the US in December.

The company said, effective immediately, Cubans will be able to access a "broad range of great global entertainment," including a "wide range of films" and series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, for $7.99 a month.

Cubans will have access to "a similar catalogue to what is available in other parts of the Spanish-speaking Caribbean," a Netflix spokesperson told Motherboard. Meanwhile, the company says it is "not working with the Cuban government on content, so any questions on censorship are speculative and we can't answer them."

The average salary in Cuba is $20 a month

However, it is unclear how many people in Cuba, where the ave​rage ​monthly salary is $20, will have access to the service. The subscription requires an international payment method, like a debit or credit card, and a broadband connection.

"Each country is in charge of their own infrastructure," Netflix told Motherboard. "Regarding Cuba, specifically, we addressed limitations in the release that went out today, and hope that over time Cubans will be able to enjoy Netflix as access to the Internet improves and international credit and debit card companies begin offering a broader service in the country."

Only 5 percent of the population of Cuba has internet access, often relying on expensive internet kiosks. Right now, about 80 percent of people in the country use a sort of underground railroad of USB drives to watch Am​erican TV shows. The service, called "the Weekly Package," costs about $5 a week and can be downloaded from the external drives without internet and passed along to neighbors.

After the diplomatic shift in December, Obama authorized US telecommunications providers to establish internet infrastructure in the country, but the shift has been slow. The Obama administration has​ called promoting internet access in Cuba "a top priority," and has previously discussed building a cable link between Florida and Guantanamo Bay.