REUTERS – Netflix Inc. has launched its television and movie-streaming service in Cuba, taking advantage of new, friendlier diplomatic relations between the United States and the Caribbean country. New rules announced by the U.S. government have opened the island up to U.S. trade, travel, and finance.
Cuban customers will gain access to Netflix’s library of hundreds of shows and movies, including the Netflix originals “Orange is the New Black,” “House of Cards,” “BoJack Horseman,” and “Marco Polo.”
However, residents of the island nation say that difficulty accessing the site, slow internet speeds, and a lack of payment methods could pose as problems after the launch. Internet access in Cuba is currently highly restricted, with only 5 per cent of country’s population of 11 million people having access.
“We have to wait for the internet infrastructure to expand in Cuba in order to increase the speed,” says Havana resident Angel Beltran. “Everything is a problem related to infrastructure – when it improves service effectiveness can be achieved, but I think that at this time the service is not going to be very effective.”
Michelle Rodriguez, another Havana resident, says many Cubans won’t be able for pay for the service from inside of the country. Netflix, starting at $7.99 per month, is only available to customers with international payment cards, adding to the woes of the company’s Cuban start.
“The service is good but I already see problems with the method of payment because it has to be paid from abroad,” says Rodriguez to Reuters. “It’s impossible to pay it here and the other [problem] is the bandwidth here in Cuba – it isn’t sufficient to use it.”
The Cuban launch of Netflix comes after last month’s announcement that its expansion to 200 countries within two years will happen faster than expected. The company also plans to launch the streaming service in Japan by fall 2015.