Trump admin creates 'Cuba Internet Task Force'

By Ray Downs  |  Jan. 24, 2018 at 12:48 AM
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Jan. 24 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of State on Tuesday announced the creation of the Cuba Internet Task Force aimed at increasing web access and independent media in the island nation.

The task force is part of a directive on Cuba issued by President Donald Trump June 16.

The group will include U.S. government and non-governmental representatives "to promote the free and unregulated flow of information in Cuba," the State Department said.

Details about the members of the group and its budget have not yet been disclosed. The group's first public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 7.

The State Department currently operates a radio and TV broadcasting station aimed at the Cuban audience out of Miami with an annual budget of $28 million, El Nuevo Herald reported.

Although there has been some increases in recent years, Cuba is one of the least connected nations in the world, with only 31 percent of the population having access to the web, according to a 2016 Freedom House report.

But the number of people who actually connect to the Internet is even lower.

In a nation of more than 11 million people, only about 100,000 log on daily.

The Cuban government began a pilot program last year to put Internet access in a few select homes, but the price of the service is slow at 2 megabyte per second, which is fast enough for email and general web browsing. It's also expensive -- as high as $115 for 30 hours of access in a country where the average monthly salary is $25.

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