"The historic opening of Cuba is a natural opportunity for us to take action, and we are. That's the Un-carrier way!" John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile, a German telecom company with subsidiaries abroad, said in an official statement.
¡Bienvenidos, Cuba! Introducing voice, text, and data roaming in Cuba starting this summer. https://t.co/xDBhwAVa9s— T-Mobile (@TMobile) May 9, 2016
The mobile giant struck an historic deal with state-owned Cuban carrier, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (ETECSA), allowing visitors to the island more affordable voice calling, as well as text and data roaming.
The move by the telecoms company is the latest in a number of technology businesses offering their services to Cuba, a country that was once listed on the state sponsored terrorist list and an old enemy of the US, now has endless opportunities from foreign businesses and investors wishing to tap into this new and exciting market.
Change is Coming
The mobile phone market in Cuba has typically been dominated by one player, Cubacel, who was the first telecommunications provider in the Latin American country and run by ETECSA, who have historically had 100 percent market share. But with this new T-mobile venture, the monopoly Cubacel have at the moment will no doubt change.
For the Cuban people, who have lived under a 50-year-plus embargo, this is just the start.
For decades they have been crying out for the US to lift the embargo and in December 2014, that became a near reality.
However the road has been long, with President Obama still not able to get an embargo lift through Congress. But progress has been made, with the historic raising of the US flag, that took place in Havana in August 2015, change is coming, even if slowly.
It was in March that President Obama announced the talks taking place between Google and Cuba. In addition, mobile phone company Verizon announced last year they also will be offering data roaming services to customers from the island.
However for T-Mobile CEO, John Legere, this move was a no-brainier and he believes his company can offer superiority over their competitors.
Fantastic news, @JohnLegere, especially for those customers currently in Cuba and doing journalism there.When exactly will it go live?Thx— Armando Gallardo (@okaymando) May 9, 2016
More than a third (36.6%) of Cuban-born wireless customers are with T-Mobile — more than AT&T and triple the number of Verizon customers. Also customers in Cuban-American hubs like Miami are choosing T-Mobile and MetroPCS nearly twice as often as AT&T or Verizon.
"We have more customers of Cuban descent than any other wireless provider — so connecting them with family and friends in Cuba is a message we heard loud and clear!" Legere said.
None of the US firms has permission to directly sell mobile services to the 11 million people living in Cuba. In fact, fewer than one in four have access to mobile services in general.