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Normalisation of relations with the US lifts restrictions in telecom equipment imports
Cuba still has the lowest mobile phone and internet penetration rates in the region, and is also among the lowest for fixed-line teledensity. Fixed-line and mobile services remain a monopoly of the government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (Etecsa Cubacel).
There remains substantial state control over the right to own and use certain communications services, including the right to access the internet. Whilst the Obama administration has recently relaxed some of the embargo rules pertaining to telecom services, differences between US and Cuban pricing rules effectively preclude US operators from operating in Cuba. Although Raul Castro has made it clear that he will be reducing the size of Cuban state expenditure in favour of private participation in the economy, the genuine liberalisation of Cuba's telecom sector is expected to be hampered slowly over the coming years. This has been keenly witnessed in the slow development of the submarine cable between Venezuela and Cuba, which in early 2013 was opened for traffic.
DTTV reached about five million people by late 2014, with coverage extended to all provincial capital cities.
In mid-2014 the government allowed internet services to be extended to non-agricultural cooperatives, though these must comply with the same strict conditions which apply to other authorized outlets.
The ALBA-1 submarine fibre-optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela has the potential to provide 640Gb/s bandwidth. In May 2013 the Jamaican branch of the cable was opened for traffic, following the route through to Venezuela in January 2013.
In March 2014 ETECSA introduced a new mobile email service, @nauta.cu. The operator also planned to extend ADSL-based services to residential homes. In preparation, the Ministry of Communications set the maximum tariff which ETECSA can charge per megabyte at CUC1.
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