Across the country, the landline telephone is slowly becoming extinct as more Americans make the switch to cell and smartphones. The improved features and capabilities of mobile technology have rendered landlines in the United States essentially worthless. In Cuba, however, residents are hoping to take advantage of “a new private enterprise opportunity” by turning their homes into phone booths and charging their neighbors to use their telephones, up to several dollars a minute for international calls.
“Telecommunications Agents” Popping Up in Cuba
According to a recent story at ABC News, these “telecommunications agents” will be required to charge customers the same as what telecom monopoly Etecsa charges for renting their home phones, with the company paying them a commission. Agents will also be able to sell prepaid cellphone cards, collect phone bill payments, and charge for Internet access.
In all, Cuba has nearly 1.2 million fixed phones lines and 1.8 million cellphones for a population of around 11 million. Additionally, only 2.9 percent of the population has complete access to the Web according to government statistics. More Cubans, however, have access to a domestic Intranet that enables users to browse homegrown websites and exchange e-mails.
Currently, home Internet accounts are closely restricted by the government but that could change as early as next year. According to ABC News, authorities have opened more than 200 cyber-cafes across Cuba, charging users $4.50 an hour.
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