Cuba

Cuba’s telecom company ETECSA issues ban on “blacklisted” cell phones

abfernandez@elnuevoherald.com

People stand in front of a center run by famed artist Kcho, to use the free Wi-Fi network, in Havana, Cuba.
People stand in front of a center run by famed artist Kcho, to use the free Wi-Fi network, in Havana, Cuba. AP

ETECSA, Cuba’s only telecom company, has issued new regulations prohibiting its clients to connect new lines on cell phones that are “blacklisted” — that is that have been reported lost or stolen.

The measure, announced Monday in the government newspaper Juventud Rebelde, also stipulates that ETECSA clients who already have cell phones with invalid IMEI codes — a unique code that identifies every cell phone — must replace them before May 18, 2018.

According to a company statement, the new regulations are intended to “protect the population” from acquiring cell phones with fraudulent IMEI codes.

“Those users who insert their SIM card in a phone that is blacklisted, will see their lines automatically blocked,” the company statement says, adding that “in those cases, the account holder has up to 5 business days to appear in the commercial offices of ETECSA and clarify the causes of the event in order to unlock the phone line.”

“If they don’t tend to this matter within that time frame, service will be suspended,” the statement says.

ETECSA said that the ban is due to an increase in the number of reports tied to thefts and/or loss of cell phones as well as unauthorized changes of IMEI codes “by unscrupulous citizens to allow illegal use of these phones that are blacklisted (blocked).”

The use of cell phones has grown significantly over the past couple of years. Many of the devices are brought into the island by visiting relatives or friends.

The company also recommended that its clients “pay attention when buying cell phones from individuals or websites unrecognized by the manufacturer or operator.”

Customers can check in the company’s website to check the IMEI codes of any device they intend to buy before making the purchase.

Twitter: @abelfglez

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