Today Is Cell Phone Freedom Day In Cuba - InformationWeek

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Commentary
4/14/2008
03:45 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Today Is Cell Phone Freedom Day In Cuba

Before today, it was illegal for everyday citizens in Cuba to purchase and use a cell phone. President Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, has relaxed some policies, much to the joy of many. People lined up by the hundreds outside Cuba's government-run telephone offices today to be the first to join the mobile community. Welcome, Cubans!

Before today, it was illegal for everyday citizens in Cuba to purchase and use a cell phone. President Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, has relaxed some policies, much to the joy of many. People lined up by the hundreds outside Cuba's government-run telephone offices today to be the first to join the mobile community. Welcome, Cubans!Fidel Castro imposed many restrictions on the populace of communist Cuba. Many of them still remain. But at least one was done away with by his younger brother, and now-president, Raul Castro. Raul took over rule of the island nation from his ailing brother on Feb. 24. In a move that will help his nation get on board with the rest of the world, he decreed that cell phones be allowed to the public.

Telecom Italia is assisting the state-run Cuban telecommunications monopoly ETECSA to expand the existing systems (which were for government and foreigner use only) so they will be able to handle the increase in capacity.

The service will cost about 110 CUCs per month, and the initial phones will cost about 60 CUCs, or $65. For now, however, the bulk of Cubans won't be able to afford either the phones or the service. According to Reuters, only 60% of Cubans have access to actual hard currency to pay for such services. Those that do, are receiving money from overseas relatives. The average wage for Cubans is 400 Cuban pesos, or $18, per month. The cell phone service amounts to about nine months' worth of pay. Ouch.

Even if the majority of Cubans can't yet pay for a cell phone, at least the opportunity to get one is now there. The mobile community is glad to hear you calling, Cuba.

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