author photo

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

A Minute Will Cost Me Ten Cents Less

January 17, 2013 | Print Print |

Dariela Aquique 

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Yesterday Cubans woke up to a new message. Cubacel, the sole telephone company on the island, announced to its customers that the costs of certain phone services would be reduced. Starting Wednesday, the cost of cellphone-to-cellphone calls and ones received from landlines would be reduced from 0.45 to 0.35 CUC. (1 USD = 0.87 CUC).

It will now cost ten cents less for this type communication, the one that’s presently the most used on the entire planet. The infinite possibilities offered by this type of telephone service have made their employment increasingly demanded by the world’s population.

Access to these services has become more common in Cuba in recent years. However, the high price has been the biggest deterrent, especially if we keep in mind that the average monthly wage in the country is less than one CUC a day.

Around one year ago certain discounts began to be offered, though the cost of a cellphone line is still 30.00 CUC, though this remains as the balance in a customer’s account. In addition there are other promotional discounts offered from abroad, such as ones that offer additional calling time for the same price. Also reduced was the price of SMS text messaging.

Everyone is waiting for additional changes that might offer similar benefits, such as another discount in the price of a contract, or the extension of the time one can remain under contract (currently contracts are voided if one goes for more than two months without buying additional pre-paid talking time, even if they have a balance).

Small steps are continuing to be made in Cuba with regard to the use of new technologies and communications. Nevertheless people are satisfied since this slow progress is better than none at all. At least we’re not faced with completely ridiculous prices of a few years ago, when it cost 120.00 CUCs for a cellphone account.

As for Internet access, there continues to be little word about when this might change, but to dwell on this topic would be like beating a dead horse. In any case, more and more Cubans are using our invaluable cellphones.

As for me personally, I keep running into obsolete aspects in this service that are particular to this country and aren’t very beneficial for the customers. But like everybody else, I can’t stop feeling pleased with being able to talk on the phone with a little less stress since one minute will cost me ten cents less.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    The real question to ask is why these price reductions have been so long in coming? Unlike food and energy price comparisons where a host of local factors mitigate cross-country comparisons, cellular technology price comparisons, for example, between Mexico and Cuba are valid and have merit. In fact, retail cellular technology in Cuba should cost significantly less as the labor component associated with implementation and maintenance are much lower despite slightly higher equipment acquisition costs. In real terms, to install a cell tower or fiber optic cable or to set up switching systems in Cuba costs less. As a result, theoretically, per minute cell phone tariffs in Cuba should be less than in Mexico not 400% more! It is clear that the Castro regime has intentionally set tariffs at a high level so as to dissuade widespread cellphone use. However, against popular local demand and increasing international attention, the Castros have begun to yield. The fear is that the day is coming when the next government-ordered repudiation rally or secret police assault on the Ladies in White will be broadcast in real time from a witness on the ground with a cell phone to CNN. As long as cell phone prices are prohibitively high, the Castros dirty secrets regarding cholera deaths and dissident express detentions are harder to uncover.