Hola Ola Technology Park Rush to Open Leaves Some Users Disappointed /
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 29 December 2016 — The long-awaited
installation of an internet connection area on Havana’s Malecon has
taken its first step. The opening of the Hola Ola Technology Park last
weekend was welcomed with great enthusiasm by the state media that
described the infrastructure as “the architecture of high technology.”
The center, managed by the Youth Computer and Electronics Club (JCCE),
has two rooms, one of them with 15 computers and 32-inch TVs for playing
computer games, and another with 15 more machines and electronic games,
among them several simulators, as announced by the provincial director
of the capital’s Youth Club, Brigida Baeza Bravo. In practice, a visit
to the center is enough to confirm that there are about 20 computers
that lack access to the internet.
It is clear that the Technology Park was opened in haste and its first
breakdowns are already visible. Tuesday, the simulators for flying,
driving and shooting, installed by the Ministry of the Armed Forces
(Minfar), were having software problems and were unusable, pending the
The end-of-year school holidays have stimulated people’s interest in
bringing their children to Hola Ola (Hello Wave) to better fill their
time. One employee tried to give them hope, this Tuesday, in the face of
the mishap that caused the breakdown. “The machines will be repaired
very soon, but the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces) will have to do it,”
The explanation did not seem to improve the mood of the frustrated
visitors who demanded their time in at the controls or with the toy gun
and, to ease the situation, the employee reminded them of the air
conditioned room with video games. The line began to extend beyond the
compound, where the use of a computer costs two Cuban pesos (CUP) an
hour (about 8 cents US).
One mother with two small children waited her turn in the cafeteria. “No
one can eat this croquette, it’s dry and they didn’t even use
breadcrumbs to make it go down better,” the woman complained, having
paid two Cuban pesos for the product.
Another of the services announced in the official press by Brigida Baeza
is the rental of tablets, who use was intended to be free during the
opening days until a reasonable fee was approved. But the option, for
now, is not available to the public.
But the biggest attraction of the site, for the users of Hola Ola, is
the wifi access area installed around the perimeter. The network,
managed by the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (Etecsa), is also not
working to its full capacity, because the antennas are not operational
in the back, where the barbecue is located.
There is also no place on site to buy the Nauta cards needed to connect
to the internet, which also limits the experience of would-be net
surfers, a problem that will be solved “very soon,” according to several
employees consulted by this newspaper.
“It’s the wifi area closest to me,” said Amarilys, a Havanan of 34 who
lives in the Cayo Hueso neighborhood, although she complains that “the
price to connect is still very high,” despite Etecsa’s recent drop from
2 Cuban Convertible pesos (CUC) an hour (roughly $2 US) to 1.50 CUC.
The infrastructure problems affecting Hola Ola also affected its
bathrooms this Tuesday, which were flooded by a water leak.
Nevertheless, the desire of many citizens to connect to the internet is
huge and the web surfers didn’t let any of these inconveniences ruin the
Cuba is one of the countries with the least internet connectivity in the
world. In the last couple of years about 1,100 internet connection
points have been enabled on the island, both in navigation rooms with
computers provided, and in outdoor wifi zones, but many websites
critical of the government remain censored and cannot be accessed from
the island, the connection speed is low, and the service suffers from
Source: Hola Ola Technology Park Rush to Open Leaves Some Users
Disappointed / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba –