Fidel Castro can now watch Netflix after Cuba launch

9 Feb 2015

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The Caribbean island of Cuba – more known for its cigars, retro cars and Communist government – is now the latest country to screen Netflix, despite the country’s lack of broadband.

In what is surely a sign of the Communist government’s loosening authoritative grip on the country, those in Cuba will begin to see what House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black and even Cuban Fury… well, it is one of the few films about Cuba in its catalogue.

Netflix made the announcement via its Twitter page saying that it won’t be fully available just yet but will see a total roll-out within the next two years with users paying somewhere in the region of US$7.99 per month.

“We are delighted to finally be able to offer Netflix to the people of Cuba, connecting them with stories they will love from all over the world,” said Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings. “Cuba has great filmmakers and a robust arts culture and one day we hope to be able to bring their work to our global audience of over 57 million members.”

Cuba’s internet stuck “in the 1990s”

The move no-doubt comes following the considerable cooling in relations between the US and Cuba with both Barack Obama and Cuba’s president, Raul Castro, agreeing to resume diplomatic relations that saw, among other banned products, Cuban cigars as legal purchasable items in the US once again after decades of restrictions.

The major question remains however over who exactly will be Netflix targeting in the island nation as it is widely regarded as having some of the toughest restrictions in the world for access to the internet.

In an article published by The Guardian last December, only 5pc of Cuba’s population of 11m have access to the internet, most of which consists of dial-up speeds making it one of the least connected countries on Earth.

In fact, Google’s Eric Schmidt even went as far to say of Cuba’s networks on a recent visit that it was comparable with a country “in the 1990s” with broadband only available in hotels and internet cafés at a cost of nearly US$5 or as much as many Cubans earn a week.

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com