Cuba still has the lowest mobile phone and internet penetration rates in the region, and is also among the lowest for fixed-line teledensity. Fixed-line and mobile services remain a monopoly of the government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETESCA Cubacel).
Although there remain substantial state controls over the right to own and use certain communications services, including the right to access the internet, a thawing of relations between the US and Cuba has encouraged the government to improve access to services. During 2015 a number of free Wi-Fi hotspots were introduce, albeit with slow connectivity, and while the cost of internet access was more than halved in mid-year, to $2 per hour, it is still prohibitively expensive for most Cubans. Access to sites is also tightly controlled and censored. The ongoing normalisation of relations with the US promises to have considerable economic benefits for Cuba. This is particularly important given the dire economic difficulties of the country’s chief sponsor, Venezuela. During 2015 the main US mobile network operators, including AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile US, signed internet and roaming agreements with the Cuban incumbent telco ETESCA, while in January 2016 the FCC allowed US firms to do business directly with the Cuban telecom sector. In addition, the government has looked favourably on proposals for a new subsea cable to link Cuba directly with Florida, which would supplement the only direct international cable access, via the ALBA-1 cable from Venezuela.
|Penetration of telecoms services:||Penetration|
|Mobile SIM (population)||16.4%|
(Source: BuddeComm based on various sources)
Number of pages 21
Last updated 18 May 2016
Analyst: Henry Lancaster
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