International Business

Competition heats up for roaming, calling services in Cuba

T-Mobile has signed a roaming and interconnect agreement with ETECSA, the Cuban telecom company. Here people wait to enter an ETECSA office in Havana.
T-Mobile has signed a roaming and interconnect agreement with ETECSA, the Cuban telecom company. Here people wait to enter an ETECSA office in Havana. AP

The Cuba telecommunications market is heating up with another U.S. company announcing it will be easier for its customers to stay connected when they're on the island.

T-Mobile said this week that it had signed an interconnect and roaming agreement with ETECSA, the Cuban telecommunications company. The deal means that starting this summer, T-Mobile Simple Choice customers will be able to use voice, text and data services while traveling in Cuba. T-Mobile said rates won’t be announced until the summer launch.

Customers using the Stateside International Talk feature, which costs $15 per month, also will be able to call landlines and wireless phones in Cuba from the United States for 60 cents per minute — 65 percent less than current rates.

“The historic opening of Cuba is a natural opportunity for us to take action, and we are,” said John Legere, president and chief executive of T-Mobile. “We have more customers of Cuban descent than any other wireless provider – so connecting them with family and friends in Cuba is a message we heard loud and clear!”

The company said that more than one-third of wireless customers of Cuban descent use T-Mobile.

Sprint, which signed a direct roaming and direct long-distance interconnection agreement with ETECSA last year, answered the new competition by saying it still “provides the strongest offer in the market with its Sprint Cuba 20 Plus Plan.” The plan, which costs an additional $10 per month, offers 20 minutes of free calling to Cuba per month. After that, plan subscribers pay 70 cents per minute for calls to Cuba. The plan also offers discounted calling to other countries.

Verizon Wireless was the first U.S. wireless company to offer roaming in Cuba when it began offering the service last year, and AT&T is reportedly in discussions to begin offering roaming on the island.

Even though the embargo still remains in effect, U.S. companies are allowed to sell personal communications equipment and telecom services in Cuba and to enter into agreements with Cuba entities to improve the Internet and telecommunicaitons infrastructure on the island.

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