New submarine cable the key to international internet connectivity
BuddeComm’s Cuba - Telecoms, Mobile, and Broadband report profiles the fixed-line, mobile and internet markets in the Caribbean’s largest country. It includes state statistical market data for 2011 as well as developments to January 2013.
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.
Since 2009 US telcos have been able to establish themselves in Cuba though reticence on the part of Cuban authorities has made co-operation difficult.
The incumbent Etecsa, now merged with its mobile subsidiary Cubacel, has worked with the government to improve teledensity in poorly served areas of the capital, though services remain limited.
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.
Mobile subscriber growth of around 30% in 2011 has largely been the result the government’s 2008 decision to allow private ownership of cell phones, as also a response to the poor fixed-line infrastructure. Mobile penetration nevertheless remains among the lowest in Latin America.
Public internet access is also limited, with most dial-up the only realistic access for citizens. The high cost of access, as also the limitations of dial-up connectivity, mean that the potential of the WWW, as recognised in most other countries, remains impossible in Cuba. A number of new access points made available from mid-2013 has extended the availability of internet access, though restrictions on content remain.
ETECSA reduced the cost of domestic phone calls at the end of 2012 and introduced a calling-party-pays system.
Trial DTT services in Havana using the Chinese DTMB system rely on Chinese-donated STBs, given the scarcity of TVs and STBs in the country.
Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.
This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Cuba’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, and fixed-line sectors.
Market and industry analyses, trends and developments; Facts, figures and statistics; Industry and regulatory issues; Infrastructure; Internet; Mobile voice market.
This report is essential reading for those needing high level strategic information and objective analysis on the telecom sector in Cuba.
It provides further information on:
Market liberalisation and regulatory issues; The impact of the global economic crisis; The incumbent telecoms operator – privatisation; Mobile voice market developments; Historical and current subscriber statistics.