Will Cuba be the Next Investment Hub for US Telecoms?

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Verizon is now offering cellphone roaming in Cuba.

Customers using a “world device” – a device capable of receiving signals in Cuba – have to first subscribe to the Pay-As-You-Go international travel option, Verizon said. Verizon Communications VZ -1.57% announced on Thursday it would begin to offer roaming wireless service in Cuba next week, becoming the first U.S. company to do so.

The announcement by the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier follows the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States in July after 54 years. Telecommunications equipment, technology and services were among the first exemptions to a U.S. economic embargo of the island after Washington and Havana announced plans to restore diplomatic relations in December. So if you blow through 1GB of data uploading selfies to Instagram, tapping into Google Maps, and texting friends back home, you’d end up paying more than $2,000—possibly more than the trip itself. “Our customers are citizens of the world, and we want them to seamlessly enjoy a great Verizon experience wherever they travel,” Javier Farfan, vice president of cultural and segment marketing at Verizon, said in a statement.

Stay connected with one of Verizon’s sanctioned World Devices: Apple iPhone 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s, or 6s Plus; Samsung Galaxy S5, S6, or S6 Edge; or the Motorola Droid Maxx. Currently, visiting Americans must purchase a pay-as-you-go cell phone through state telephone company Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (ETECSA) to have cellular service on the island, or have a cellphone account in a third country. The Obama administration is working with Havana to strike a deal that would allow commercial airlines to establish service between the US and Cuba by December of this year, as previously reported by The Christian Science Monitor. Verizon isn’t the only one extending a friendly hand to Cuba: Netflix in February announced the expansion of its video-streaming service into the nation, though the region still struggles with limited Internet access.

But if you’ve got a hankering for a few episodes of Orange Is The New Black or want to check out the new 6 Years film, visit the Havana cultural center where free public Wi-Fi access can be found. For those looking to immerse themselves in the Cuban experience, Airbnb recently launched about 1,000 listings in the country, most of which cost around $30 per night.

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