US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!

President Obama opened the door to American business in Cuba, including telcos.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

December 18, 2014

2 Min Read
US Carriers, You're Going to Cuba!

Hope you like mojitos and fine cigars, because you're on your way to Cuba.

President Obama on Wednesday announced normalizing relations with Cuba. Among the provisions: US telcos will be able to do business in the island nation, according to a White House statement.

"Cuba has an internet penetration of about five percent -- one of the lowest rates in the world. The cost of telecommunications in Cuba is exorbitantly high, while the services offered are extremely limited," the statement reads.

The 5% of Cubans with access to the full global Internet connect through government institutions, high-end hotels and the black market, according to the pro-democracy group Freedom House. Around a quarter of Cubans can get on the national intranet, where they can use a national email system, view pro-government websites, and use few other services. A submarine high-speed cable linked Cuba and Venezuela went online in 2011, but a year later it was little used.

Find out more about broadband on Light Reading's broadband channel.

Internet access has been a hot-button issue in US-Cuban relations. As part of the normalization deal, Cuba is freeing Alan Gross, an American government contractor arrested in 2009 and sentenced to 15 years in a Cuban prison. He was in Cuba distributing Internet equipment, including laptops, WiFi routers and cell phones.

With a population of 11 million people, many of whom live in poverty, Cuba isn't going to be a transformational market for carriers. But 11 million isn't nothing either -- it's about the same population as Ohio, the seventh most populous US state. And there's a good chance that Cuban poverty won't last long, with Communism loosening its grip on a country that's a short hop from the second-biggest economy in the world.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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