Cuba claims over one million 4G users

Cuba’s sole telecoms provider, the state-owned ETECSA (Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba) has claimed via social media that it now has over one million 4G users.

The distinction between users and subscribers is significant, as CommsUpdate notes that ETECSA began granting pre-paid customers access to its 4G network in October last year. The 1800MHz LTE network is available across the country’s 15 provinces.

As noted by research firm Budde, development in Cuba’s telecom sector has been somewhat throttled by the state monopoly. Within the Caribbean, Cuba has by far the lowest penetration rates for mobile, broadband and fixed-line.

The Cuban government has imposed strict rules over access to many telecommunications services, but improved relations with the US government have seen the authorities relinquish their grip on internet services, with Wi-Fi hotspots first appearing in 2015. While access charges were high, to the extent of fostering a black market for duplicate connections, rates were lowered in 2018.

ETECSA began offering 3G services in 2018, and while around two thirds of the country’s population is able to access them, rates are high and there is a widespread acknowledgement that the technology is outmoded.