Cuba’s Internet Is F*cking Insane. And the Ways Cubans Use It Are Genius.

Excerpt from this article:

Here’s how it works: you buy a prepaid card from government stores or from one of these (illegal but pretty much ignored by police) scalpers, and on the card is a login code that gives you an hour of access. I bought a card for $3. Surrounding me and my increasingly soggy access card was a mass of flickering screens, devices wavering in and out of connectivity — relatives waving on video chat, Facebook pages being scrolled through, statuses being updated, photos being shared, and even movie trailers being watched (Star Wars!) with frequent buffering. Every now and then, a towel or shirt was pulled out to dry the rain water flecking the screens.

…While I successfully connected, the speed of my Internet brought on flashbacks of MegaBus Wi-Fi, or sharing a remote cabin router with 10 of my friends in upstate New York. The much-maligned “wheel of loading” spun eternally on my screen, and in a fit of American impatience, I decided no selfie was worth literal minutes of upload times, especially in a steady rain and a pair of decidedly un-waterproof Clarks. I opted to cut my excursion short to pursue dry socks, and maybe a quick nap. I wasted three dollars. I am a really shitty Cuban.

…El Paquete Semana. The weekly packet. A one-terabyte hard-drive loaded with a week’s worth of American movies, shows, music, magazines, and even smartphone apps. The original source of this smorgasbord of media is something of a mystery, but dealers pace the streets of Havana, selling full versions of El Paquete for around $8, or a smaller version with partial content for a few bucks. It’s passed around the Cuban population by street dealers for a cost, or by friends out of charity, like borrowing a Netflix password. My particular amigos were already looking forward to seeing the Latin Grammys and the Victoria Secret Fashion show in the upcoming months, both of which would make rounds on El Paquete about a week after airing on US television.

And yes, my friends assure me, “El Paquete and chill” is definitely a thing.

Cuba’s homemade Internet, delivered by sneakernet

Excerpt from this article:

The always-on Internet we take for granted in the US is more difficult to come by in Cuba. Some residents subscribe to a service called El Paquete Semanal (“The Weekly Package”) where someone comes to your house with a 1Tb external drive and loads the past week’s Internet highlights onto your computer