Thousands of people took to Cuban streets across the country on 15 July 2021, to protest against the government. In response, the government swiftly shut down mobile connectivity and the telephone system to disrupt the flow of information, making it hard for citizens and activists to mobilize and communicate with each other.
Mobile phones account for over three-quarters of all web traffic in Cuba, with approximately 76 % of traffic within the country generated via mobile devices (Statista). Although access was restored quickly, Internet shutdowns during protests or civil unrest impact the ability of citizens to get accurate information from government sources when they need it most. It also becomes harder for citizens to contact family members and friends in other parts of the country, or in other countries. While the Internet has been available in Cuba for several years, access is controlled by the government, which blocks access to certain websites and requires permits for connections to private homes or businesses. The high cost of fixed line access was prohibitive for most citizens until 2018, when relatively affordable mobile Internet plans became available, opening up access – albeit censored – to millions of people.
“We were totally disconnected,” said Alexey Seijo, an evangelical pastor in the colonial city of Camagüey. “There was no way to tell people: Let’s get together at the plaza to shout and demonstrate.” – Source: WSJ
“At least 10 of my friends and co-workers didn’t even have landline phone service,” said Ángel Rodríguez, a human-rights activist who lives in Havana.” – Source: WSJ
Measurements showed a drop in Internet traffic in Cuba for almost an hour.
Google Transparency Report
Internet traffic to #Cuba stopped 04:55 – 05:35 UTC (10:55 – 11:35pm local) last night following protests in multiple cities.
One year ago this week, Cubans held the largest anti-government protests ever. The Cuban govt responded with internet outages and throttling. pic.twitter.com/EKi2MLZbnX
— Doug Madory (@DougMadory) July 15, 2022
1) En la madrugada de hoy se reportaron protestas en Cuba. también hay reportes de apagones de internet y bloqueo de redes sociales. Varias plataformas confirman que el tráfico de internet disminuyó considerablemente entre las 12:55 am y las 1:35am (hora local) #KeepItOn pic.twitter.com/QscZEUjdAe
— YucaByte (@YucaByte) July 15, 2022