Posted on Tuesday, 11.26.13
Cuba to let islanders rent out their home phones
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
HAVANA — Cubans have a new private enterprise opportunity — acting as
“telecommunications agents” by essentially turning their homes into
phone booths and charging neighbors by the minute to use their telephones.
The Labor Ministry rule announced Tuesday also says the “agents” will be
able to offer Internet access at some point in the future.
Cuba has some 1.2 million fixed phone lines and 1.8 million cellphones
for a population of around 11 million. Many domestic land lines are not
equipped for making long-distance and international calls, though they
can receive them.
The “agents” will have to charge the same as what state telecom monopoly
Etecsa charges customers, with the company paying them a commission.
International rates in Cuba can run as high as several dollars a minute.
The measure also authorizes the contractors to sell prepaid cellphone
cards, collect phone bill payments and even offer Internet.
As with a number of the 200 or so areas of independent economic activity
now allowed under President Raul Castro’s reforms, the resolution seems
geared toward regulating and taxing activities that are already common
in the informal economy.
Cubans with long-distance lines already let neighbors use their phones
for a fee, and there’s also a black market for the sale of dial-up
According to government figures, only 2.9 percent of Cubans say they
have access to the full Web, though the real figure is believed to be
higher accounting for the black market. More Cubans do have access to a
domestic Intranet where they can browse homegrown websites and send and
Home Internet accounts are still closely restricted, though authorities
have said they intend to begin offering them to the wider public next year.
Recently, authorities opened more than 200 public cyber-cafes across the
island that charge about $4.50 an hour.
Source: “HAVANA: Cuba to let islanders rent out their home phones –
Business Breaking News – MiamiHerald.com” –