The Cuban Internet has leveled up this year: in January, a long-dormant cable connection to Venezuela was activated, giving Cuba its first non-satellite connection to the global Internet. Last week, a second cable connection, this time to Jamaica, came online. The New York Times is reporting that the government is planning to open 118 new cybercafés, at which Cuban citizens will be able to go online for a fee. Until recently, Internet access in Cuba largely has been limited to access to the country’s domestic intranet or to services designed for foreigners. While the new cafés will increase availability of Internet access, the price—$4.50 per hour, in a country where salaries average around $20 per month—will likely prevent widespread use.
Google is working to build wireless networks in emerging markets in an effort to provide Internet access to a billion people who currently live entirely offline, reports the Wall Street Journal. The company has already begun a pilot project in Cape Town, South Africa, transmitting wireless broadband across “white spaces” (unused channels in the broadcast TV spectrum) via three base stations located at Stellenbosch University. Future projects in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia may use similar technology, or may involve the use of masts, satellites, or “high-altitude platforms”—blimps—to transmit signals.
Russia’s most popular social network, VKontakte, was temporarily blacklisted for several hours on May 24. Russian government officials claim the blockage was a mistake, made when an employee accidentally added the entire site, rather than a single offending page, to the country’s national blacklist. The Guardian reports that the site’s founder, Pavel Durov, has come under government scrutiny in the past for refusing to shut down groups on the site that were used to organize protests during the December 2011 parliamentary elections.
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