Cuba Lowers Long Distance Phone Rates

Still very high compared to most countries

By Café Fuerte

Foto: Caridad
Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government announced Friday the reduction of tariffs for international calls and messaging originating from the country, state media reported.

A resolution of the Ministry of Communications (MINCOM), published in the Official Gazette, informs its decision to accept a proposal from the state monopoly telecommunications company ETECSA to lower rates for long distance phone calls and international messages, at least for a year.

Resolution 31/2015, signed on February 16, and just made public, provides that international calls originating from residential phones and pay phones, will now cost 1.00 CUC (1.15 USD) per minute, to all destinations, including the United States.

The new international SMS service fee will be 0.60 CUC (0.70 USD). Previously it was 1 CUC.

A cost of 1.10 per minute to the US from cell phones

Prepaid calls made from cell phones will now cost 1.10 CUC if the destination is North America, Central America and South America, as opposed to the previous 1.60 CUC.

If the cell phone call is to Venezuela, it will cost 1.00 CUC a minute. The previous rate was 1.40 CUC.

All calls to the rest of the world from cell phones will cost 1.20 CUC per minute, the statement said.

The measure takes effect immediately. In fact, ETECSA already had a promotion in effect until June 30, 2015 on the rates for mobile phones and messaging that matches those now set in the resolution.

Telecommunications engineer Jose Remon, former manager of International Services of MINCOM, said the decision has to do with the sharp increase in international telephone communications to or from the island and the boom of the cell phone market since 2008.

Proven formula

“The strategy of ETECSA is very clear and is paying off: stimulate phone use to get more revenue,” said Remon, who works as a consultant in Miami.

According to official data, international calls reached a record 130.7 million minutes in 2013, an increase of 23 percent. Outgoing calls consumed a total 46.1 million minutes, an increase of 25 percent over the previous period. The figures for 2014 have yet to be made public but are expected to ratify the growing trend of the last six years.

The resolution is being released the same week that a US government delegation visited Havana to address the improvement of telecommunications and the use of the internet as part of the restoration of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana.