Cuba's state-owned telecommunications operator Etecsa is rolling out mobile internet to prepaid customers after several months of tests and limited deployment to contract users, a company executive told local media.
The island, next-to-last in terms of connectivity in the Americas, only ahead of Haiti, has been testing its 3G technology for several months as it looks to increase connectivity of its 11mn people. The service was made available to foreign journalists, NGOs and companies earlier in the year.
Now Etecsa is making the service available to its majority prepaid customers. Tania Velázquez, the operator's VP of strategy, told the Mesa Redonda TV show that Cubans will be able to purchase internet access for their 3G-supported phones starting Thursday.
The packages go from 600MB of data at a price of 7 CUCs (Cuban convertible pesos, same in US$) a month to 4GB at 30 CUC, with an additional 300MB for navigating Cuban websites. Most Cubans currently connect to the internet on their cellphones using the country's 1,200 or so WiFi hotspots.
Communications minister Jorge Luis Perdomo told the same TV show that the challenge for the island's telecommunications sector in 2019 is the deployment of infrastructure to introduce faster, 4G technology.
"We need to continue in the process of creating infrastructure, fundamentally by prioritizing the mobile network ... and introduce 4G technology with is a mature technology," he said.
4G, the current mobile standard, has already surpassed 3G in traffic volume in countries such as Mexico, which are looking at deploying 5G technology in the next couple of years.
Cuba has 789 base stations with 3G technology and 1,084 for 2G, according to Etecsa data.