HAVANA TIMES – Cuba’s monopoly telecommunications company, Etecsa, announced on Monday an agreement for direct interconnection with the US giant AT&T for the exchange of international voice traffic between the two countries.
Both companies also agreed to roaming, voice, text and data for AT&T customers traveling to the island, according to the press release distributed by the Cuban state company.
The agreement is one more step in the policy of rapprochement between the two countries that began with historical announcements on December 2014 and the restoration of diplomatic relations after a half century of rupture.
In February 2015, Cuba and the United States signed the first direct interconnection agreement between the two countries, when Etecsa came to an agreement with IDT Domestic Telecom for the service of international voice calls.
In November of that same year, Etecsa signed an agreement with Sprint Communications Company LP, to provide customers the service to make and receive calls and text messages and transmit data from Cuba through their mobile phones.
The agreement with Sprint was the first roaming service established directly between Cuba and the United States.
During 2016, US companies Verizon Partner Solutions and T-Mobile USA also agreed to exchange international voice traffic.
The thaw has meant a real “tourist boom” from the US. During the first four months of this year, more than 94,000 US citizens have visited Cuba, representing an increase of 93 percent over the same period of 2015.
The increase is significant considering that Washington still maintains its ban on tourism for their citizens on the island.
However, the Obama administration has eased the paperwork to qualify for the 12 forms of authorized travel to Cuba, which include cultural, academic or religious motivated trips.
US commercial airlines will be beginning direct flights to Cuba in the near future.