HAVANA TIMES — Cuba claims it already has 4.2 million cell phone lines, which could soon extend the connection to internet with 3G technology, government authorities announced on Wednesday.
In a special feature on the nightly TV Round Table show, Tania Velazquez, director of Marketing and Advertising at Cuba’s Telecommunications monopoly (ETECSA), reported the latest government stats on telephones and the implementation of new public services.
Right now, 2G and 3G technology are overlapping; the latter has only been available to a reduced group of users and selective personnel. The expansion of 3G will improve the capacity of data and voice transmission for those who have 2G, and will allow them to have internet access without the need for WIFI.
Moving in the right direction
“I believe this is a step in the right direction,” said engineer Jose Remon, the telecommunications consultant in Miami. “Developing cell phone technology with greater investment is something that needs to be national strategy so that people can have better internet service and telephone services.”
In the United States, 4G is already operating and they are even experimenting with 5G.
ETECSA authorities clarified that only the devices that have a 900 Mhz frequency will be able to connect to the internet, so it’s important that customers are aware of this requirement when they buy a cell phone.
“This frequency is the international standard, but a lot of mobiles can be found in Cuba that don’t have it,” explained Hilda Maria Arias Perez, the Central Director of ETESCA’s Mobile phone Services Division.
It is presumed that all the telephones that ETECSA sells have access to data at this frequency.
Top-ups from abroad
Officials also revealed that it is the minority of ETECSA clients who benefit from receiving top-ups from abroad, who – contrary to popular belief – only make up 20% of users.
ETECSA’s other immediate projects involve adding 200 more public [pay-for] WIFI hotspots and setting up 38,000 home connections, after they launched a pilot plan in Old Havana at the end of last year.
Nevertheless, Velazquez highlighted the fact that “exportable sevices” with the capacity to generate revenue from abroad, are “a priority for the company” above those that are targeted at the domestic market.
“An example of this are the offers we’ve been promoting since last December up until now as well as our phone plans. The introduction of new platforms has also had an influence and has allowed us to create a wide range of offers so that the Cuban people can choose the one that is the most affordable for them,” the official stated.
Internet surfing rooms
With regard to internet surfing rooms, it was reported that there are 634 internet rooms which make up a total of 2,102 computers for internet use in the entire country. Twenty with a total of 79 computers have been added this year. Hospitals and Cuban post offices have also been set up with the sevice, and every municipality in the country has at least one WIFI hotspot, of the nearly 70 that have been installed.
This year, the government has planned to install of the pay-for WIFI in 128 public areas, of which 60 will be in the Cuban capital.
Also during the TV show, Luis Adolfo Iglesias Reyes, the director of ETECSA’s Fixed Line Division informed us about the increase of requests to switch accounts as it is now possible to hand over the title of your account, the same as what happened with buying and selling homes in the country.
However, he remarked that the request to switch accounts is backlogged due to the ETECSA’s own limitations.
The company has had transfer requests pending for three years now. In 2016, there were 14,605 of these transfer requests, out of which 10,925 have been successfully carried out. But, there have been an additional 10,098 transfer requests this year so far.