United States Opens The Door To Telecommunications Services With Cuba

Compañía estadounidense de telecomunicaciones AT&T. (Flickr)
US telecommunications company AT & T. (Flickr)

“By removing Cuba from the Exclusion list, the Commission opens the door for U.S. telecom carriers to provide facilities-based telephone and Internet service to Cuba without separate approval from the Commission,” the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reported Friday, through a statement posted on its web page.

With this measure, United States providers will not need special authorization to offer services to the island or to build installations on Cuban territory. The document clarifies that the decision will take effect immediately upon its publication.

Since 1996, Washington has included Cuba on a telecommunications exclusion list which required operators interested in offering services to the island to present a special request. Authorization was a joint process with the State Department.

“Removing Cuba from the Exclusion List benefits the public interest as it will likely alleviate administrative and cost burdens on both the applicant and the Commission, and will promote competition on the U.S.-Cuba route,” said the official statement.

The news has just begun circulating within the island, but comes at a time of widespread discontent with the management of the State Telecommunication Company of Cuba SA (ETECSA). Customers of the telephone monopoly complain about the high prices of services which are charged in Cuban convertible pesos rather than Cuban pesos, and the unreliability of services.

In the last trimester, ETECSA’s email service, Nauta, has suffered two interruptions lasting several days each, which has raised the volume of complaints against the operator. Many look hopefully to the arrival on the island of a competing company that would force the state monopoly to reduce rates and improve service.

Last November the U.S. mobile company Sprint reached a direct roaming agreement with Cuba, the first of its kind in the new relations between the island and Washington, since the beginning of the thaw in December 2014. However, the agreement has not yet been put into practice.

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