Cuba's Underground Gaming Network

Cuba's Underground Gaming Network

I'm drew Scanlon I'm exploring the world through the lens of games and I'm doing it with the support of people like you on patreon help us out at slash o'clock Matt despite being barely a hundred miles from the tip of Florida Cuba is a place many of us think of as being isolated cut off from the world like a Caribbean North Korea indeed the country is famous for its classic cars their enduring presence partially a byproduct of long-standing trade embargoes but while much of Havana looks like a time capsule from the 1950s the country is slowly working its way into the 21st century for instance Cuba has internet internet access is still rare in private homes but is supposedly rolling out to more and more people every year the rest of Cuba's citizens rely on publicly available access points commonly situated in parks or public buildings at all hours of the day pockets of Internet surfers can be seen around Havana noses down in their phones or with the occasional laptop whether you connect at home or to a public hotspot you are greeted with a captive portal familiar to anyone who has tried to login to free Wi-Fi at the airport to get my own login I had to buy a one-time-use card good for five hours of internet our guides Alfredo and Karolina led us to a small shop run by a Texa Cuba's state-owned telecommunications provider technically I didn't buy the card since each card must be registered with a Cuban citizen Karolina showed her ID and paid the 5c you see however there was a guy selling cards nearby for twice the price who would have probably waived this requirement he's mine thank you so much on each card is a numeric username and scratch-off that reveals the password from there it's as simple as connecting to the public hotspot and logging in on the attacks a login page and so and I bought this card so this is my sorry oh that's a long string and once I use this this card is done right but you can close the part so you can save time your time thanks beginning now okay YouTube this is it oh okay yeah the speed is decent but more importantly it felt like the real full Internet not some government approved walled garden Hey look at that that's a bad that's pretty good there was a catch to this however so this this card won't allow me to look at Oh cos you showed your ID okay so and what like Wikipedia like okay okay that's enough it seems to keep the whole thing self-policing phones have limited data abilities over cellular such as a text email but they connect to Wi-Fi just fine the world's internet is available but expensive $1.00 per hour of Internet is a lot in a country where monthly take-home pay ranges from 25 to $50 per month that expense and having to go to a park to get online is a pain if all you really want to do is play online games with your friends thankfully there's a workaround s net short for Street network is Havana's citywide homebrew intranet this building houses a bank of servers called connecticut and broadcasts a limited range signal that can be picked up with devices called nano stations hey-zeus is an administrator for s net and showed us how the whole thing works his friend Roberto translated for us the signal comes from there from those building that's called Hana tiga from there to that nano station that black back for protection it's the water the signal with the current Whitman isn't strong enough to broadcast from everybody so they what they do is they send a signal I mean bounce from here to there you know so we could get to the whole city everybody can stay connected now the whole Havana is connected to the net and you can access the Wi-Fi from practically anywhere how many people does this tower even want on Titan all 250 yeah this one several people are connected by cable because not everyone can get access to the Wi-Fi ok for the location for doesn't have the money to buy the equipment and so on so but they connected to with cable you can see the cables here there's extensions of cable and cable and cable to how the see how do you see everybody this is what they call Nautilus I don't know how to say any news no really like that this our bounds a signal to the little ones they are like twelve towers connected to this one is a lot of people so if someone new wanted to connect to the network even I want to touch again so you get I want to talk that integral said he would have to buy an annotation and build a small Tower and give access to that person with a nice station and other people can connect to him and those hurry kids drawings the the thing most popular in the network is games here we love playing games we can play a lot of games but the one who can play in a local network because we don't have internet for example world of warcraft everybody plays work workers Call of Duty those things is the most plain in this network this is not professionally where we invented this when I was parented we are like eight people and it's all by cable there is no Wi-Fi before there is the cable we will have to carry our computers our PC and go to a place the normal house from anybody other house so we would play connected by small cables and a little switch of eight ports everybody connected cable everywhere and the machines were like old super old and it was it was amazing but yeah I one day we were like playing at 4 a.m. 5 a.m. we didn't know we just love playing games and we were packing up the and we helping each other carry our computers to each house and one day we were at the corner of my house and the police came and it looks like a robbery it really looks like a robbery and then they came and he was I where are the papers of all the machines and papers here no we don't do papers and this is our own problem own problem they all night talking and talking and talking and talking and talking also when we start to take the cables across the roof also we have problem with the law get informations to pass it and it was really difficult because it was illegal then in our city girl yeah because we asked permission and they give us a document the weaker part of my plan is only there's some problem because it's only for gaming allegedly it's only for gaming but in s net there's no profit there's no profit all the money that we pay is for in case the Thunder damage the equipment is something there's no profit alone so for free we don't spend money in that if we spend money is because we are going to we try to connect someone there is far away and or is difficult to connect him for the place or something when we help me because we like to add people we then went downstairs where hey Susan Roberta showed us the software side of things so we communicate to this shut okay it's called war shut those two white cables hard from the tower okay from the non station those two are doing from the tower and that one it connects to the suite that's a nice station you have to put this one in the tower to connect more people so this one because the other one is for you put it there and point into the direction where all the people are it's like a radius like that and another one in the other direction to connect the other people from other people you go to leap stair the people from the river everybody all the little unknown stations they are connected to the big one when they are great when the darker is because they are turned off in that program you can control the towers that's the like the control of the whole network those people are counted to that nanostation that that's the little towers they are connected to this he just connect that person that little Tower and now they have Wi-Fi you see yeah it's connected now sometimes the people that are connecting to the data station between them they have problems in the computers in the cables reading those things and those problems comes back to the big tower to him and and then it start to a chain reaction everybody share problem if one if one is having issues with the computer or whatever it transmitted to everybody so it is connected him until she fixing and what is fixed he comments it again when they start making business with profit from himself we don't permit that we ban them from the network that's how we say bunny ammos with bank for in James there's like two or three people there are the a means of games just one for color duty there's another one from World of Warcraft and they have no employers but people that happen to detect people that is in the game and we don't like that because we're trying to make everybody even so if we cut you we banned you from the game like no no forever but maybe in a month or two you can play and if you keep doing that keep doing that keep doing that which is venue and gonna buy another go to other net where I don't know it's the only one people mostly anybody who can have access to the Internet good internet download the one game I don't know magically comes to the network and share it and you will be like oh let's play this game is good we can play in an open network and everybody could play that which is we copy things from machine to machine from the change machine we don't just go and download our game because downloading one game here one here right again a long time long time the Laurie to see the network in action we walked the length of one of the ethernet cables leading from his uses home you can see the blue cable goes down to the house yeah they all connected all connected to the network from the house they say not keeps going through all the street when the cable terminated so did the reach of his uses node but of course there are more nodes which turned into more switches that connect more people to s net and the network grows by some estimates s net serves over twenty thousand people see you they're walking over here and police stopped us right there it was very funny the cables from his Network and here the end here they're here from this point further other people control the network it's the same network darío alias booty provides one of these switches that's the sweet all the cables booty is also an avid gamer so avid that he was up on the latest Zelda despite only owning a PC game consoles are not unknown here but are extremely expensive so the PC tends to rule as Roberto said World of Warcraft is quite popular impressive considering s net is again not connected to the Internet Kinetico in addition to providing servers for games and communication to run on also has a front-end that acts as a sort of portal cooking on anything in this list will bring you to a lobby where you can wait for others before launching the game when the room is full the game starts but it's more than just games we have a football page where you can go and see the latest news from games and players chat room is chat room also where you can discuss after a game there are working members will be able to play football FIFA Revolution those games in that page this is like Facebook or it's not your own face yeah there's even a Craigslist of source where you can buy enough networking equipment to make your own note so those are in the station land suit and things to connect his Susan moody spent a few minutes kicking out / cat6 cable but the site also lists gaming accessories no you can go to a store but in the stores are very expensive and it's weird to see those things in the stores and then I turned towards here they sell like little Logitech mouse why'd they get yellow and but as Americans we weren't allowed to buy anything from state-run stores what we walked inside one to see what it was like sure enough your standard bare-bones keyboard with 30 day guarantee shared shelf space in this electronics store with hair curlers and ovens you can buy anything in this page our car whatever this extends of course the game consoles which since most were listed at roughly US retail price are prohibitively expensive for most Cubans you can just put here whatever you want to sell like race you post a picture the price and a lot of comments about the app and your phone number so where do those people get those games somebody travels to another country they buy games you guys for example in your country there must be sheep buying a game and they bring here and they sell it whatever they really don't care the juice you can bring the game and say that is for you for your own gaming and you just go to that page you know and you post I want to solve all my games nobody cared yeah it's not really our felony I'd say it must be illegal but I asked repeatedly if I could include everything Roberto and his sous told us and they said yes it seems the government is content to let the people of Havana operate s net as long as it doesn't abuse its privileges the alcohol in a paper bag of connectivity this is fascinating in its own right but what really amazed me is that it's all homegrown and maintained free of charge people like his loose and bootie put in the work to connect people figuratively and literally because they know the value of communication of cooperation and what it means to play together doing so purely for the good of the people is something truly revolutionary this is the first video from cloth map series on Cuba stay tuned over the coming weeks for a look at the games that are a part of Cuba's DNA or suit sports an interview detailing the country's surprising links to another cloth map subject and for patrons a behind the scenes travelogue documenting our entire trip good if you like this video or any of our other ones consider supporting us on patreon regular folks just like you contribute a few bucks a month to keep cloth napkin there support helps pay for flights lodging guides translators camera operators editors music licensing and more if you think learning about the world and bringing us all closer together is important we'd love to have you with us [Applause] [Applause] [Applause]

20 thoughts to “Cuba's Underground Gaming Network”

  1. Fantastic. The Cuban people are so ingenuitive, so amazing in so many ways..I see people on here asking how they can donate to this group. Can you please give them an answer?

  2. And people complain about the smallest shit in first world countries, pretty nice to have some perspective. Awesome video <3

  3. This is amazing. I'd really love to learn more about the technical side of this. These Cubans are building stuff I always dreamed about. Decentralised mesh networks over metropolitan areas. In theory, impossible to control or shutdown so long as you can keep physically building more nodes.

  4. This was awesome. Before they had widespread local networks like this, there used to be "publishers" of a weekly or monthly USB HDD that would be passed around the town (duplicated along the way), loaded with all sorts of good stuff from the outside world. Movies, TV shows, games, news, books – all kinds of media! The principle behind the internet can truly find its way into any society.

  5. You won`t believe me but the first node in Cuba was created by me 🙂 with this antena and an old Linksys router flashed with DD-WRT.

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