How the Netflix move will help Cubans

Global Voices Online
Yara Cinema in downtown Havana

Netflix's move into Cuba, while of middling benefit to the nation's Internet-challenged residents, may pay off big for some of the best, most creative Cuban filmmakers.

On Monday, Netflix announced that "people in Cuba with Internet connections and access to international payment methods will be able to subscribe to Netflix and instantly watch a curated selection of popular movies and TV shows." The announcement came despite an environment in which even those Cubans who have Internet access do not have a strong enough connection to watch videos online. Nor do they have credit or debit cards to pay for service.

The required broadband connection speed for playing movies and TV shows through Netflix is 0.5 megabits per second and the recommended connection speed is 1.5 megabits per second. The University of Havana, for example, distributes 18 megabits per second among more than 6,000 student users each day. Yudivián Almeida, professor at the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Sciences, told Global Voices that "it would be possible to watch Netflix after 6 p.m., when most of the students are not in the campus."

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