Cuba Sets Mobile Internet Rates

February 25, 2014 | Print Print |

By Cafe Fuerte

celulares-cubaHAVANA TIMES — Cuban authorities have announced that mobile Internet services will be made available on the island in coming weeks and set a maximum rate of 1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) per megabyte of data transfer. (1 CUC = 1.14 USD)

Ministry of Communications Resolution No. 8 / 2014, published in Cuba’s Official Gazette last week, approved “the operation and rates for data access services for individuals and entities”, offered by the Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), indicating that post-paid commercial packages would become available within 30 days.

The resolution adds that pre-paid plans will come into effect during the third quarter of 2014.

“These services include the configuration of receiving equipment sold by ETECSA,” the resolution published on January 20 explained. The 1 CUC per megabyte rate does not cover installation and regular voice services.

“Even though the price established is the maximum rate, it is still extremely high,” Miami telecommunications consultant Jose Remon remarked.

Far Too Expensive

According to the expert, a user who accesses data services and social networks from their mobile phone consumes an average of 250 megabytes a month.

“Navigating the Internet using a mobile phone in Cuba is going to be too expensive for the average citizen, and the Cuban government is betting on the monetary contributions to be made from abroad,” Remon stated.

The resolution establishes that the current rate will be reviewed within a year.

At the beginning of the year, ETECSA announced that Cubans would be able to navigate the Internet using their mobile phones starting April.

According to this announcement, the measure is part of a series of new services which include access to email from cellular phones, the elimination of the obligatory 5-CUC credit recharge and the ability to transfer credit among users through the pre-payment system.

In January, ETECSA also announced that mobile phone bills could be paid from abroad.

Below is the full text (in Spanish) of Resolution 8 / 2014.

RESOLUCIÓN No. 8/2014

POR CUANTO: El Decreto No. 300, de fecha 11 de octubre de 2012, establece en su artículo 46, segundo párrafo que las tarifas máximas del servicio celular de telecomunicaciones móviles terrestres prestado a personas naturales, son propuestas por el Ministerio de Comunicaciones y aprobadas por el Ministro de Finanzas y Precios. Las posteriores tarifas de este servicio brindado a personas naturales, que disminuyan en relación con las tarifas máximas, son aprobadas por el Ministro de Comunicaciones.

POR CUANTO: Mediante la Resolución No. 383 de la Ministra de Finanzas y Precios, de fecha 20 de septiembre de 2013, se ratificaron, con carácter de máximas, las tarifas del servicio celular de telecomunicaciones móviles terrestres en pesos convertibles (CUC), a personas naturales, que se aplican por la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., subordinada al Ministerio de Comunicaciones, incluyendo las aprobadas por la Resolución No. 67 del Ministro de Comunicaciones, de fecha 20 de abril de 2010, mediante la cual se aprobaron las condiciones de operación y el régimen tarifario para el acceso a servicios de datos y mensajería multimedia con tecnología mediante el Servicio General de Paquetes vía Radio, (GPRS, por sus siglas en inglés).

POR CUANTO: La evolución tecnológica realizada en la red celular de telecomunicaciones móviles terrestres de la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S.A., posibilita su utilización por un mayor número de usuarios a un menor costo, resulta necesario aprobar nuevas tarifas para el acceso a los servicios de datos prestados a personas naturales y jurídicas, ajustadas a dichas condiciones.

POR TANTO: En el ejercicio de las facultades conferidas, en el artículo 100 inciso a) de la Constitución de la República de Cuba;

R e s u e l v o:

PRIMERO: Aprobar las condiciones de operación y el régimen tarifario para el acceso a los servicios de datos prestados a personas naturales y jurídicas, por la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A., en lo adelante ETECSA, en las modalidades prepago y pospago, a través de la red celular de telecomunicaciones móviles terrestres y que se mencionan a continuación:

1. La tarifa máxima que se establece mediante el método de tráfico cursado es de un (1) peso convertible (CUC) por Mbyte transferido; y

2. la contratación de estos servicios incluye la configuración de los equipos terminales comercializados por ETECSA.

SEGUNDO: Corresponde a ETECSA:

1. Establecer en un plazo de treinta (30) días a partir de la fecha de entrada en vigor de la
presente Resolución, los planes comerciales a la modalidad de pospago, utilizando comotarifa máxima la que se establece en el apartado anterior, los que deben ser informados a la Dirección de Regulaciones y Normas del Ministerio de Comunicaciones dentro del plazo de quince (15) días posteriores a su establecimiento;

2. establecer en el tercer trimestre del año 2014, los planes comerciales a la modalidad de prepago, utilizando como tarifa máxima la que se establece en el Apartado anterior, los que deben ser informados a la Dirección de Regulaciones y Normas del Ministerio de Comunicaciones dentro del plazo de quince (15) días posteriores a su establecimiento; y

3. presentar transcurrido un (1) año a partir de la fecha de entrada en vigor de la presente Resolución, un análisis sobre la aplicación de la tarifa que por medio de la presente se aprueba y entregar a la Dirección de Regulaciones y Normas del Ministerio de Comunicaciones sus resultados.

TERCERO: Por el acceso móvil a redes corporativas, se aplican los cargos de  instalación y abono mensual correspondientes a los servicios de conectividad que sean necesarios para la interconexión de la red pública de transmisión de datos con la red de la persona jurídica que contrate el servicio, según las tarifas que estén vigentes al momento de la contratación.

CUARTO: Corresponde a la persona jurídica a la que pertenece cada red corporativa, la responsabilidad de designar y controlar la conexión de los usuarios autorizados a tener acceso a la red y aplicar las restantes medidas establecidas por el Reglamento de Seguridad para las Tecnologías de la Información.

QUINTO: Derogar la Resolución No. 67 del Ministro de Comunicaciones, de fecha 20 de abril de 2010.

NOTIFÍQUESE al Presidente Ejecutivo de la Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba, S. A.

COMUNÍQUESE a los viceministros, a los directores de Regulaciones y Normas y de Contabilidad, Precios y Estadística y al Director General de la Agencia de Control y Supervisión.

ARCHÍVESE el original en la Dirección Jurídica del Ministerio de Comunicaciones.

PUBLÍQUESE en la Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba.

Dada en La Habana, a los 20 días del mes de enero de 2014.

Maimir Mesa Ramos
Ministro de Comunicaciones


What's your opinion?

  • Marty1940sr

    ¿POR QUÉ OFRECER ESTE SERVICIO sabiendo que no puedemos pagar POR EL SERVICIO

  • ronbobel777

    the last thing the cuban government wants is free expression. it’s the only country i have been to where there is basically one newspaper. why are they afraid of free expression?

    • ac

      Well, apparently they are not THAT scared, since they granted internet access to the general population a while back and apparently they are expanding the service to cellular data as well.

      I find your comment particularly ironic since you are criticizing precisely the issue they are addressing with this measure.

      Sure, there are a lot of things to criticize in this resolution, like the high cost of the service in comparison to Cuban wages, but fear of free expression is definitively not one of them.

  • David Seminatore

    who can afford this only the super rich .. maybe a mega rich tourist ?

    • CUBAQUS

      Just image the poor Canadian that left his smartphone 3G data link on in Cuba when he gets the mega-bill from his service supplier in Canada for getting some e-mails in Cuba!

      • ac

        Those poor Canadians were paying $16 per megabyte in roaming charges until recently that they good a 50% reduction and now pay the bargain of $8 per MB

        http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1303453/bell-reduces-mobile-roaming-prices-for-cuba

        Bearing that in mind now this is a VERY good news them, since they can now buy or rent a CUBACEL SIM card and use the new rates if all they want to do is check emails or light browsing.

  • Moses Patterson

    This ‘reform’, like the sales of $400K Peugeots and $500K homes without air-conditioning, is simply the Castros answer to criticisms that technology and basic accoutrements commonplace elsewhere around the world are now available to Cubans. Now, the Castro propaganda machine and their sycophants, some of whom comment here at HT (this means you Walter Teague) will say progress is being made and that these services are being offered. This new service is also grounded in the cynical hope that folks like me with family in Cuba will pay for these services on behalf of our loved ones in Cuba.

    • ac

      Well, it IS a positive development, and apparently the initial fees can only go DOWN, since the law only set a MAXIMUM value. And as you said, this is technology that has been available for years elsewhere and now is available to all Cubans as well and no matter how you spin it, thats a good thing.

      Also, that hope is not entirely cynical, internet data access provides a cheap way of communication that in principle can use very little data (you know, those things called email and messenger services) and that makes it a cheaper option for day to day communication than relying entirely on international phone calls or SMS that are relatively expensive for the value provided.

      So you WILL pay for it in a way or another (and gladly in some cases), at least if you plan to keep in touch with your loved ones. Also, notice that the service prices will progressively get cheaper and at some point is going to be more cost-effective to make all your calls using skype or similar service, so I don’t get why all that negative feedback for something that has been requested ad nauseum, even touted as a human right by many people over the years, you included.

      • Moses Patterson

        Positive? Easy for you to say. There is a saying: Don’t piss on me and then tell me its raining. This is only remotely positive. You will not have to pay $30.00 for a Skype telephone call between your wife and your mother-in-law about the latest chisme in the old neighborhood.

      • CUBAQUS

        You don’t need to “spin” anything to see that this technology isn’t available to “all Cubans”.
        most can’t even afford the smartphone, let alone the basic phone charges on $10 pensions or $25 salaries.
        How could they ever afford $1 per MB intranet charges.
        Yes INTRANET charges, not INTERNET. All Cubans get for that exorbitant price is access to controlled information.
        Inb Europe for $30 you have fre calls and 3 GB of internet.

        • ac

          Lol, reading the article is not going to hurt your brain. It explicitly states INTERNET access at a maximum given rate.

          And once you access the outside nets, THERE IS NO MORE CONTROLLED ACCESS. Even if they block and filter some sites THERE ARE ALWAYS WAYS AROUND IT.

          Also, you can’t expect them to offer prices comparable with mature markets. This is the first time EVER they offer the data services and they STILL have to build the infrastructure to support the service at a scale large enough to make it affordable.

          • CUBAQUS

            Insults don’t change facts.
            INTERNET in Cuba means INTRANET + as lots of sites are blocked as you yourself confirm.
            There is a lot of controlled access all over Cuba, you expose your own lie.
            The prices in Cuba are the most expensive in the world. I agree that infrastructure is lacking, but given the exorbitant rates charged for international call – just slightly less than Inmarsat to so remote islands – the regime should be able to afford investment.

          • ac

            Certainly you have some serious issues if you take a clarification about an explicit point made in the article with a vague implication that you didn’t read it as an insult.

            An INTRANET a specific term for a network limited to an organization or in this case a country aka, a private internet. As long as you can reach data OUTSIDE of an network you are not constrained by it, so in that context you are not longer in it.

            As long as you reach an outside network you can establish a secure connection with the host and perform point to point encryption, so even if the government is sniffing the raw traffic it is encrypted and breaking the encryption is not trivial.

            Besides, most of the internet access control in Cuba happens at the point of entry (aka, the individual providers: workplaces, schools, internet cafes, etc.), not at a country level and the most common form of control for individuals are trace logging and the requirement of ID cards when using public access.

          • CUBAQUS

            Cuba has an Intranet for the whole country.
            All servers are connected to it. Access to Internet is limited and even there controlled.
            One government controlled provider controls all access. The intranet is indeed selectively conned to the internet for some users and even there with limitations blocking access.
            All access passes though the Cuba = Intranet servers.
            That is the issue: it are the controlled Intranet servers that are connected to by any internet in Cuba be it fixed or mobile.
            Note that the central authority in Cuba controls what people that are allowed by the system – under strict rules – can access. It is the “Chinese firewall” that decides what someone can see. As such central control remains the most pervasive.

          • ac

            Lol, that comments shows astounding ignorance on the subject.

            First, is bloody obvious that SOME servers are connected to the rest of the world, otherwise no one ever could establish an outside connection and I KNOW for a fact that is possible since I’ve done so using roaming services in the past plus I’ve also tested several networks and verified that they actually have internet access.

            Second, the Cuban government does NOT have the hardware necessary to filter the traffic at national level in real time. What they can DO is bind sites they don’t want to faux IP addresses to make them unavailable to all requests from within Cuba, but any tech savvy person can circumvent that without too many issues AND in the tests I’ve done I can confirm that most sites critical to the government are generally available.

            Third: all ISP EVERYWHERE in the world MUST OBEY THE LOCAL LAWS. There is no ifs and buts: is obey the law or get out of the business, so every government has ABSOLUTE control of what their internet providers can and cannot serve to their users. Whenever individual governments choose to force ISPs to abide to an arbitrary set of guidelines or not is a different issue.

            Fourth: your statement that all traffic passes thorough Cuba and that means it is an intranet is tremendously stupid, under that criteria there is no such thing as internet since ALL traffic EVERYWHERE passes through your local provider AND your local network. The fact that all my traffic goes thorough my router doesn’t mean that I’m not connected to internet.

            Fifth: Even if Cuba were to implement a Chinese style great firewall -that they don’t and they can’t at this time- that doesn’t mean they don’t provide internet access. No matter what is the target of their alleged censorship, the VAST MAJORITY of internet will NOT be blocked and will be available to their citizens.

            Lastly, filtering content is not intellectual property of repressive governments. Most countries do in a way or another, mostly for valid reasons like child porn, illegal drug trafficking sites, copyright violations, etc. Generally speaking it doesn’t work, but they DO try, here there is an example from UK:

            http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/dec/20/web-filtering-will-not-work

    • ac

      BTW, I was looking for confirmation from another source when I stumbled upon the following:

      “According to the same source, Etecsa also plans to reduce the rates of its voice and international SMS services, as well as allow its customers to pay for various services directly from their mobile phones.”

      http://www.telecompaper.com/news/cubas-etecsa-to-launch-mobile-internet-service-in-h2–992835

      A different article goes even further:

      “In February 2014 ETECSA announced plans to introduce new mobile services including internet access and email. The operator also planned to extend ADSL-based services to residential homes by the end of 2014.”

      http://www.international.to/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=42333:marketresearchreports-com-cuba-telecoms-mobile-and-broadband-analyses-and-statistics-new-report-launched&catid=309:pitchengine&Itemid=446

      We can only hope it is true, but the timeline is close enough to be credible. Thats it, at least as credible as the rest of the stuff coming from Cuba, so take it with a grain of salt.

  • ac

    Well, if you read the article, they can get better deals if they plan ahead, those are just the on demand rates and I agree that they still suck. Badly.