In Cuba, even getting Internet access is a complex task that you need to prepare for, which you can read more about below. Firstly, let’s take a look at our list of the five best VPNs for Cuba.
Best VPN Cuba
|1.||From $6.67 / month||
ProPrivacy.com Score 10 out of 10
|2.||From $2.99 / month||
ProPrivacy.com Score 9.8 out of 10
|3.||From $1.89 / month||
ProPrivacy.com Score 9.2 out of 10
|4.||From $7.62 / month||
ProPrivacy.com Score 8.7 out of 10
|5.||From $3.49 / month||
ProPrivacy.com Score 8.4 out of 10
Cuba VPN Considerations
As hard as it is to get onto the internet in Cuba, it’s a shock that many websites are blocked there as well. Luckily, with a VPN you can unblock all these websites, and provide you with access to more.
In the following, we're exploring the reasons that you might need a VPN for in Cuba. Continue reading to find out what obstacles you might face and how a VPN can help.
Internet Access in Cuba
You may be lucky enough to be staying in a hotel that has a WiFi hotspot. However, if you’re staying in a budget hotel, you won’t have that luxury. If you’re in a high-end hotel, you won’t get a signal in your room. Instead, you’ll have to go into the lobby to connect. In most places, the internet is only available in specific locations in the street. That makes it difficult to use a laptop. You should plan on using your smartphone for internet access while in Cuba.
However, the internet service is so slow that you’ll find WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger almost impossible to use. You indeed won’t be able to watch streaming video online. You need a connection rate of 3 Mbps to stream HD video and 2 Mbps for SD video. The Cuban internet system delivers 1 Mbps at its best rate.
Your main priorities when looking for internet access in Cuba are a lightweight device and plenty of patience. As there is very little internet traffic in the country, the government monitors everything. As such, you need extra security for your connections.
A Virtual Private Network (VPN) will keep your communications private while you’re in Cuba. If you crave entertainment, download movies and shows onto a tablet before you go. A VPN can protect you from prosecution when you use P2P networks to download copyrighted material. For more information see our best VPN for torrenting article.
Please note that ProPrivacy.com does not endorse or encourage the torrenting of copyrighted or illegal content.
Thanks to its contacts with China, the Cuban government promises to improve the quality of internet access in the country. The proposed imported technology may make the internet in Cuba faster, but it won’t make life easier for those who want to access foreign websites. Along with faster routers, the Cuban government will also be importing all of the blocking, filtering, and monitoring software that makes up the Great Firewall of China. China has the most restricted internet access in the world. As such, Cubans can look forward to more internet access difficulties in the future.
The state-owned internet service in Cuba is called Nauta. If the internet is available in your hotel, Nauta will run it. You can access the internet by Nauta cards.
The locations that sell Nauta cards are also homes to WiFi routers, so you can use the Nauta credit as soon as you buy it.
Getting Nauta Credit
You buy a pre-paid calling card at the front desk. This one has silver strips on the back, which reveal a username and password when you scratch them off. You can only buy cards with one hour of internet access, though you can buy several cards at once. You can use the cards at any WiFi hotspot because Nauta owns every hotspot. Be sure to carry a few cards around with you.
If your hotel has WiFi, there’s no guarantee that it will have connection cards available. Their supply is irregular, and many outlets run out periodically. You can go to another hotel to buy them, but you may need to buy a drink or a meal at the hotel bar to qualify to purchase the cards. The hotel may also limit your purchase to just one card.
As with any commodity that attracts long queues, Nauta is available from ticket touts who mill about close to the lines. A card costs $2, but you can cut out the queue by buying one from a tout for $3. This is a high price for an hour of lousy internet access. A trip to Cuba can end up being expensive.
Once you get to the front of the queue for a card, buy a ton of them. These cards are valuable commodities that appreciate in value by 50% as soon as you get hold of them. The average monthly salary in Cuba is $20, so this $2 card is an expensive luxury for the locals.
Avoid Queuing with a VPN
One good aspect of the Nauta account management system is that it is also available in English. You can buy credit online, but only if you access the system from overseas. This function is available at www.etecsa.cu (ETECSA runs Nauta).
The website won’t let you pay for credit online while you’re in Cuba, but a VPN can get you around this problem. Connect to a VPN server in a nearby country – a server in Miami is always a good bet. This will make you seem to be in Miami, and the ETECSA system will allow you to pay for credit online and avoid queuing for Nauta cards.
Using Nauta Credit
If you can’t get any service at all, it’s better to log off as quickly as possible and preserve your credit for another time. The credit lasts for 30 days from the first moment of connection. The logout option isn’t easy to find on the main Nauta screen. Enter http://126.96.36.199 in the address field of your browser to get to the logout screen quickly.
The VPN software will apply encryption to your connection across the WiFi network. This is important because many sites that run https, such as all webmail systems, won’t let you in if you try to access them over unsecure networks. As such, you’ll run down your hour’s credit looking at a series of blocking messages.
There is a local alternative called ETECSA, but this is no use to you if you want to access the real internet. You will see a few internet cafes in the center of big cities, but these are ETECSA outlets.
Sites that you can visit on the ETECSA network include government information websites, a government-run encyclopedia, and cached versions of foreign websites that support the Cuban government. You can’t access your Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail account through this system. You also can’t get onto overseas websites, such as the Wall Street Journal or the BBC.
The VPNs on our list work well in China, so if you intend to travel to Cuba regularly in the future, these services will continue to serve you well once the Cuban government upgrades its internet status from “almost non-existent” to “repressive.”