Ah, the life of a Digital Nomad is excellent, You just need a Laptop and internet and there you. You can work from anywhere in the world. Really Anywhere? In my Digital Nomad Guide to Cuba, I already established that it is not that easy to work as a nomad in Cuba, it is also not impossible. And since December 2018 there is something that makes your nomad life in Cuba a bit easier: A 3G mobile internet connection.
Yes, you did read correctly. A, it is a new thing in Cuba and B, you can get it as a visitor as well.
It does solve all your problems, and you should be aware that it depends a lot on your position and how well the area is covered. The 3G connection will, however, help you to reply to your emails. Upload the most important Instagram stories and keep in touch with clients and family. There are different plans for the 3G connection, and I recommend getting it if you are in Cuba for longer than a week. If you just stay a short time, it might not be worth the waiting lines at your local ETECSA spot. ETECSA is the telecommunication company run by the government, and it is the only one on the island.
They announced to establish 4G this year, but I think for now we can be pretty happy to have a 3G connection. ETECSA is, however, trying it out, and you might be lucky to catch some of the trial days. They are usually very busy as everyone calls family members abroad.
How to get Mobile Internet in Cuba
When we visited the family back in December last year, everyone was pretty excited. The 3G plans finally arrived! We called friends and family everywhere sent WhatsApp messages around the world and were amazed by using the connection at
home. Tias, friends, and neighbors started having video conversations with friends and family in the US from the comfort of their own home. Now we are back on our little island so happy that the communication to our family is more comfortable
and faster. Made us stay connected to them after the horrible tornado and in any situation.
Now the mobile Internet is quite well established in Cuba, and you can use it as a nomad. To get it, you will need a Cuban phone number first. Luckily now you can get them without having to be a resident in Cuba. Just go to the closest ETECSA and bring your original Passport. The line costs 40 CUC however, from which you will receive 10 as a credit. That you could use for your 3G connection.
You can also sell your line later or just pass it on to local or fellow nomad. Save yourself some time in front. You can use another person’s sim card as well, but if the persons have already one number with 3G active, they will not be able to use the mobile internet on their second one. So make sure you check that before you start using the sim card.
Once you have the sim card in your phone and credit on it, dial:
*133# and select 1 [Datos]
From the menu that appears then, you can select the plan you want to use or choose that you would like to be charged according to the data you consume. It is cheaper to get a plan, especially now that most of the apps will consume a lot of data.
If you need help activating the service just ask your host for help or in ETECSA. You can also find help in an internet park as there is usually someone around who knows how those things work. Make sure to select Nauta as access point under the mobile internet settings in your phone settings.
Here is a walkthrough in Spanish:
Prices and Plans for 3G Internet in Cuba
There are different plans you can use for the 3G Internet in Cuba. As mentioned you can pay by the data you consume, or you can buy a data package.
You can choose between the following data plans:
- 600MB for 7CUC ($)
- 1GB for 10CUC
- 5GB for 20CUC
- 4GB for 30CUC
Now it depends on you. If you go to more remote areas and stay in less touristic spots, it is worth getting the bigger pack and just use the data on your laptop as well. I was okay with the first plan for about a week just replying messages and urgent emails. As a little tip: WhatsApp does not consume a lot so if you have to make client calls or message them ask them to use WhatsApp.
The price of the data-pack will be taken from your balance on your phone. So make sure you will have enough credit for the plan you want to use. You can check the data you have consumed by dialing this code: *222*328#
Remember to check out my first post about traveling to Cuba as a digital nomad to be aware of the apps and programs that do not work on the island, the apps that make your life easier and what you should prepare before you plan on working online in Cuba.
It is getting easier to visit the country as a digital nomad, and if you are prepared you will have a great time! Just take it easy and do not get frustrated.
Paciencia and Enjoy your stay!