Cuba Mobile Phone Prices Drop

January 15, 2013 | Print Print |

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban telephone company (ETECSA) will lower the rates on its cellphone service starting tomorrow (Wednesday January 16), according to an EFE report.

ETECSA marketing director, Tania Velazquez, said the rate for daytime cellphone service will drop to 0.35 CUC per minute from the current 0.45, while the cost for overnight service (between 11:00 and 7:00 a.m.) will remain the same, 0.10 CUC per minute. (1.00 CUC = 1.15 USD)

According to the note, postpaid Short Messaging Service (SMS) will cost 25 CUC a month and is good for sending 160 SMS within the country.


What's your opinion?

  • Griffin

    25 CUC per month for text messages? When the average Cuban salary is 18 or 20 CUC per month, and the ration book lasts barely 2 weeks, who can afford 25 CUC per month to send text messages?

    • Moses Patterson

      Except in “el campo” or the remote countryside, no one in Cuba actually lives solely from the symbolic salary earned from State employ. General President Raul Castro acknowledged as much in a speech two years ago. In three years of living in Cuba, I knew of no one that didn’t either receive money from family abroad, had or lived with someone who had an illegal business, or actually earned their money from their own licensed self-employment. Today in Cuba, cell phones are becoming more common but remain a mark of distinction between the haves and the have-nots. As a result of calling costs, Cubans have learned to speak in a kind of “cell phonespeak” so as to not waste phone credit to communicate. As nearly all phones are based upon prepaid minutes through the use of phonecards, you will very seldom see a Cuban just strolling down the street chatting on the cellphone as is often the case elsewhere where users purchase cell plans with unlimited talk time. Musicians, artists, and some athletes who regularly travel and have the means to earn incomes in foreign currencies are in their own economic class because they can use their cell phones more liberally. As you suggest, the average Cuban, although well aware of the technology is still a long way from widespread use.

      • Griffin

        Thanks, Moses.

        By the way, that’s a nice picture of you, but couldn’t you find a more recent photograph? ; )

  • Moses Patterson

    When I lived in Cuba, the tariff was 0.45cuc per minute and the caller and the receiver both paid. I purchased cellphone service for my future wife from Cubacell and I unblocked my AT&T phone for 75cuc to be able to use on the island. Her phone at the time (2008) costs 150cuc on the black market and her SIM card cost another 75cuc. I also had to purchase an additional Cubacel SIM card for myself in the name of a Cuban buddy as foreigners can only buy SIM cards activated for 30 days. After having spent 300cuc to initiate service for the both of us, I was easily spending 100cuc per month for phone cards for the two phones. Given these expenses, you can imagine that very few Cubans had cellphones at that time. Those that did either had illegal businesses, family abroad that sent money, or they worked for certain State ministries that gave them free phones. Even though prices have come down dramatically since then (activation is now only 20cuc), Cubans still treat cell phone usage as a luxury. The majority of Cubans who have managed to get their hands on 4G Smartphones (iPhone, Galaxy, etc.) still have no means of using the Wifi or GPS functions. High-end cell phones remain largely status symbols. Cubans argue that the reason international calls and text messages remain high, (1cuc per sms and 3cuc per min. for calls to the US) is due in part to discourage dissidents from sending MMS images to the foreign press(i.e. Arab Spring) or from being able to conduct telephone interviews from inside the island. Even at these reduced tariffs, Cuban remains among Latin American countries having the fewest number of cellphones at 4% of the population.