Cuba mobile email experiment causes chaos

HAVANA, 16 May  (AP) The arrival of mobile phone email service was embraced with joy in Cuba, where most people have no internet access. Tens of thousands of Cuban’s began emailing like crazy in March. Then service started to fail, taking much of Cuba’s already shaky voice and text-messaging mobile service down with it The island’s aging cellphone towers became swamped by the new flood of email traffic, creating havoc for anyone trying to use the system.
Cuba Cellphone CrashIn this May 9, 2014 photo, a cellphone owner shows the screen on his phone that reads in Spanish; “The configuration has not been able to finish. Cannot connect to server.,” as he tries to connect to the Etecsa server while waiting with other customers outside the offices of Etecsa in Havana.

Etecsa has issued a rare apology and the troubles have eased. But the problems offer a rare window into the Internet in Cuba, where the digital age has been achingly slow to spread since arriving in 1996, leaving the country virtually isolated from the world of streaming video, photo-sharing and 4G cellphones.
Cuba Cellphone CrashPeople try to connect to the Etecsa server as they wait with other customers outside the offices of Etecsa in Havana. Cuba’s government blames their technological problems on a U.S. embargo that prevents most American businesses from selling products to the Caribbean country. Critics of the government say it deliberately strangles the Internet to halt the spread of dissent.
Cuba Cellphone CrashA worker from Etecsa posts a sign on the office window that reads in Spanish; “Today we don’t offer the following services: add cell phone minutes, mobile service modifications (change of simcard, change of number, change of phone owner), Nauta cell service. We apologize for the inconvenience.,” in Havana.

Some attribute Cuba’s technological problems on a government desperate for foreign exchange that is investing little in infrastructure improvements while extracting as much revenue as possible from communications services largely paid for by Cuban’s wealthier overseas relatives. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)