Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cuba - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Paul Budde
Communication Pty Ltd., March 2010,
Table of Contents

The Cuba - Telecoms, Mobile, and Broadband profiles the fixed-line, mobile and broadband markets in Cuba. Cuba still has the lowest mobile phone penetration in Latin America, one of the lowest levels of Internet penetration, and is among the five lowest in terms of fixed-line teledensity. Cubas fixed-line services remain a monopoly in the hands of government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (Etecsa), while mobile services are provided exclusively by Cubacel, a subsidiary of Etecsa.There remains substantial state control over the right to own and use certain communications services, including the right to access the Internet. The Obama administration has recently relaxed some of the embargo rules pertaining to telecommunications, in an attempt to improve freedom of communication and information for Cubans. Despite this, and although Raul Castro is more reform-minded than was his brother Fidel, the genuine liberalisation of Cubas telecommunications sector is expected to occur slowly over the next five to ten years.Market Highlights:In mid-2009 the Obama administration issued new policies in relation to US-Cuban relations, half of which related to the telecommunications sector. The steps were prefaced by a statement from the Obama administration saying it aimed to promote the freer flow of information to the Cuban people.For instance, the Obama administration said it would forthwith authorise US telecoms companies to establish themselves in Cuba, whether that be by way of establishing telecommunications facilities, roaming agreements with Cuban service providers, or transactions leading to the provision of satellite radio and television services. The US administration would also allow US residents to enter into service agreements with telecoms companies providing services to Cubans, as well as allowing the donation of certain telecommunications devices to Cuba without a licence.By early 2010 it was still unclear whether the Cuban government would approve of the US policy steps.In October 2009 the US government gave permission to a small Miami-based company called TeleCuba Communications to lay the first fibre-optic cable connecting the USA and Cuba. The project, which in early 2010 was still awaiting approval by the Cuban government, would cost around $18 million, financed by private investors, and would result in an 8Tb/s-10Tb/s capacity cable which could be operational by mid-2011. In addition to the US initiatives, stimulus for reform may also be aided by recently improved bilateral relations with Russia. In March 2010 Cuba and Russian signed a telecommunications pact in which the two countries agreed to jointly develop information technology. As part of the pact, delegates from both countries would also evaluate other possibilities for cooperation in the areas of radio spectrum, telecommunications and professional training.In the meantime, the substantial gap between Cubas mobile penetration, which stands at around 6% as at early 2010, and the rest of Latin Americas, which averages above 80%, continues to widen.Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.

No comments: