Cuba Telecoms Mobile & Broadband Market 2014 Analysis

New submarine cable the key to international internet connectivity

Cuba - Telecoms, Mobile, and Broadband report profiles the fixed-line, mobile and internet markets in the Caribbean’s largest country. It includes state statistical market data for 2011 as well as developments to February 2014.

Cuba still has the lowest mobile phone and internet penetration rates in the region, and is also among the lowest for fixed-line teledensity. Fixed-line and mobile services remain a monopoly of the government-controlled Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (Etecsa Cubacel).

There remains substantial state control over the right to own and use certain communications services, including the right to access the internet. Whilst the Obama administration has recently relaxed some of the embargo rules pertaining to telecom services, differences between US and Cuban pricing rules effectively preclude US operators from operating in Cuba. Although Raul Castro has made it clear that he will be reducing the size of Cuban state expenditure in favour of private participation in the economy, the genuine liberalisation of Cuba’s telecom sector is expected to be hampered slowly over the coming years. This has been keenly witnessed in the slow development of the submarine cable between Venezuela and Cuba, which in early 2013 was opened for traffic.

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Market highlights:

  • Since 2009 US telcos have been able to establish themselves in Cuba though reticence on the part of Cuban authorities has made co-operation difficult.
  • The incumbent Etecsa, now merged with its mobile subsidiary Cubacel, has worked with the government to improve teledensity in poorly served areas of the capital, though services remain limited.
  • The ALBA-1 submarine fibre-optic cable between Cuba and Venezuela has the potential to provide 640Gb/s bandwidth. In May 2013 the Jamaican branch of the cable was opened for traffic, following the route through to Venezuela in January 2013.
  • Mobile subscriber growth of around 30% in 2011 has largely been the result the government’s 2008 decision to allow private ownership of cell phones, as also a response to the poor fixed-line infrastructure. Mobile penetration nevertheless remains among the lowest in Latin America.
  • Public internet access is also limited, with most dial-up the only realistic access for citizens. The high cost of access, as also the limitations of dial-up connectivity, mean that the potential of the WWW, as recognised in most other countries, remains impossible in Cuba. A number of new access points made available from mid-2013 has extended the availability of internet access, though restrictions on content remain.
  • ETECSA reduced the cost of domestic phone calls at the end of 2012 and introduced a calling-party-pays system.
  • Trial DTT services in Havana using the Chinese DTMB system rely on Chinese-donated STBs, given the scarcity of TVs and STBs in the country.
  • In early 2014 ETECSA announced plans to introduce new mobile services including internet access and email by mid-year. The operator also planned to extend ADSL-based services to residential homes by the end of 2014. In preparation, the Ministry of Communications set the maximum tariff which ETECSA can charge per megabyte at CUC1.

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This report provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments in Cuba’s telecommunications market. The report analyses the mobile, internet, and fixed-line sectors. Subjects include:

  • Market and industry analyses, trends and developments;
  • Facts, figures and statistics;
  • Industry and regulatory issues;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Internet;
  • Mobile voice market.

Table of Contents

1. Executive summary

2. Key statistics

3. Country overview

4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Overview of Cuba’s telecom market

5. Regulatory environment

6. Fixed network operator in Cuba
6.1 Empresa de Telecomunicaciones del Cuba SA (Etecsa)

7. Telecommunications infrastructure
7.1 National telecom network
7.2 International infrastructure
7.2.1 Submarine cable networks
7.2.2 Satellite networks

8. Internet market
8.1 Overview
8.1.1 Internet statistics

9. Digital TV

10. Mobile communications
10.1 Overview of Cuba’s mobile market
10.1.1 Mobile statistics
10.2 Major mobile operators
10.2.1 ETECSA

11. Related reports

List of Tables

Table 1 – Country statistics Cuba – 2012 (e)
Table 2 – Telephone network statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 3 – Internet provider statistics – 2012
Table 4 – Internet user statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 5 – Mobile statistics – 2012 (e)
Table 6 – National telecommunications authority
Table 8 – Internet users and penetration rate – 1998 - 2014
Table 10 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2000 - 2014

List of Charts

Chart 1 – Fixed lines in service and teledensity – 2000 - 2012
Chart 2 – Internet users and penetration rate – 2000 - 2014
Chart 3 – Mobile subscribers and penetration rate – 2002 - 2014

List of Exhibits

Exhibit 1 – Submarine cable network connects Cuba and Venezuela

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