Cuba’s desire for digital connectivity has led to the organization and development of the “Street Network”. It acts as a social community as well as an alternative to government-controlled and regulated Internet service. Gaming online was a key motivator in the network’s development, but it now contains social media, wikis, marketplaces, and more. Being connected is important in 2017, but increasing access globally remains a challenge.
The last rule of the Street Network is that you don’t talk about the Street Network. But that wasn’t always the case.
For several years the clandestine Havana network of illegal Wi-Fi repeaters, lengths of high-speed network cable and squirreled away servers packed with pirated games, movies and music was sort of an open secret.
The government didn’t just turn a blind eye to it; in some cases it protected the valuable equipment located on windowsills and rooftops, keeping an eye out for potential thieves.
All of that changed in some people’s eyes in 2015 after several people in the Street Network (often just called the Snet) talked to the Associated Press and brought too much attention to their efforts. Since then, the Snet has continued to grow, quickly stretching outside the bounds of Havana and becoming something more than the gaming and entertainment network it started out as. But now that growth happens despite the government’s continued efforts to take the network down, several people who help maintain the network tell Polygon…
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