The number of mobile phone users crossed the one-million mark in June, ETECSA executive M√°ximo La Fuente announced at a press conference in Havana today, adding that he considers that number “very low.”
“We must continue growing,” the ETECSA vice president for mobile services said. He said that 40 percent of his company’s profits are generated by mobile-phone services.
According to La Fuente, while Cuba has invested more than $1 billion in telecommunications infrastructure since 2004, only $150 million were for mobile-phone services. Most of the equipment used by ETECSA is Chinese-made.
ETECSA plans to reach 2.4 mobile-phone customers by 2015 and cover the entire island by the end of this year; 20 municipalities are still without cell-phone coverage.
Cuba, with 11.2 million people, has one of the lowest cell-phone use rates in Latin America. ETECSA charges Cuban customers in convertible pesos, but has reduced rates by 80 percent since the government opened up the market. Even so, most Cubans use their cell phones only for texting.
The state-owned telecom (27 percent is held by Telecom Italia) previously expected to reach 1 million customers around the end of the year. Growth of cell phone use has been in the double-digit rates ever since the government legalized the use of cell phones by Cuban nationals in 2008.
La Fuente also said a new undersea fiberoptic cable currently being laid by a Venezuelan-Cuban state joint venture will increase wireless capabilities on the island. He said that project is being financed by Venezuelan banks and private capital.