T-Mobile's Cuba Expansion Will Increase 'Uncarrier' Boost Interconnect, Roaming Deals
T-Mobile announced on Monday it had increased its services and access to the fledgling Cuba market, securing an important expansion for its Miami market, as well as expanding its foothold on one of the freshest, most untouched new Caribbean markets in decades.
The U.S. "uncarrier" announced its further expansion into Cuba on Monday, as T-Mobile has sealed an interconnect and roaming deal with the Cuban telecommunications company Empresa De Telecomunicaciones De Cuba (ETCSA), which has the Cuban government's authority to run telecommunications on the formerly hermetic island.
T-Mobile's Cuba Base
In announcing the agreement, T-Mobile CEO John Legere was characteristically excitable in the company's release.
"The historic opening of Cuba is a natural opportunity for us to take action, and we are," said Legere. "We have more customers of Cuban descent than any other wireless provider," he boasted, "so connecting them with family and friends in Cuba is a message we heard loud and clear!"
According to T-Mobile, more than a third of Cuba-born wireless customers in the U.S. use the country's third largest wireless carrier, with 36.6 percent of wireless users of Cuban descent choosing T-Mobile.
Cuban-Americans in Miami, boasted T-Mobile, use the carrier at nearly twice the rate as its rivals AT&T and Verizon. The company said that adding Cuba to its international roaming purview has been the most popular request from T-Mobile customers on social media.
What it Means
The result of the agreement with the Cuban national telecommunications provider will mean cheaper calls for people with family and friends in Cuba starting in July.
Specifically, it gives T-Mobile Simple Choice customers access to call wireless and landline phones in Cuba from the U.S. for $0.60 per minute through a $15 per month add-on feature called "Stateside International Talk."
Though paying $15 per month to make $0.60 per minute phone calls doesn't sound like a particularly cheap option, T-Mobile says the deal it struck will make calling Cuba from the U.S. 65 percent less expensive for its customers.
In addition, the deal allows T-Mobile customers traveling in Cuba access to voice, text, and data within the country starting in the summer.
Rivals Are There Already
While T-Mobile has claimed the highest percentage of customers with a good reason to call people Cuba or need international roaming service in the country, T-Mobile is a little late to the game compared to two of its rivals.
Verizon and Sprint already offer roaming service to Cuba. As Latin Post reported, Sprint announced a deal with the ETCSA in late 2015 to introduce direct roaming and direct long distance interconnection from the U.S. to the island. The agreement allowed for calls to the country, along with international text and voice roaming when visiting.
While Sprint claimed it was the first to sign a "direct" agreement with the Cuban telecom company, Verizon had already made landfall on the island two months earlier, though the wireless giant's offerings in Cuba only included 2G voice and data. And the cost through Verizon was one of the highest in the market, with roaming service rated at just under $3.00 per minute for voice and $2.05 per megabyte for data.
T-Mobile's relatively inexpensive cost for service in Cuba is a sign of increased market competition that is undoubtedly going to continue to drive down prices, while opening up communication and market opportunities in the once isolated (and still technically communist) country.
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