14ymedio, 19 December 2016 – The state-owned Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa) – the only phone company permitted to operate in the country – announced on Monday a reduction in the prices of its internet service and its Nauta email service from cellular phones. The state monopoly thus responds to growing criticism for its high rates for data.
The international online navigation service to connect to the internet, accessed by users from wifi enabled areas or from terminals in Etecsa’s navigation rooms, now costs 1.50 Cuban convertible pesos (CUC) per hour, a reduction from the 2.00 CUC it cost before Sunday. (1 CUC is roughly equal to one US dollar, and is also close to the average wage for a full day’s work.)
Each hour of national navigation – which allows users to visit only sites hosted on Cuban servers – now costs 0.25 CUC, a more than 50% price cut from the previous price of 0.60 CUC. With this reduction, Etecsa wants “to facilitate access to websites and portals of cultural, information and research interest, with Cuban content.”
The measure will also benefit users “doing schoolwork and research,” as well as those who want “to know what cultural events are happening throughout the country, the news of Cuba, and of the rest of the world,” the state company’s notice emphasized.
With regards to Nauta email from mobile phones, Etecsa has provided the ability to contract for data packages. The customer doesn’t have to go to a commercial office, but can simply type *133# to access a menu to buy the so-called “Nauta Purse.” This service offers 5 megabytes, valid for 30 days, at a price of 1.50 CUC.
Until now, customers of the service have paid 1.00 CUC for every megabyte received or sent. Now they can choose between that rate and the new data package more favorable to their pockets.
According to Giselle Fernández, head of the commercial services department of Etecsa, rollover is available: “If at the end of the 30 days the client has megabytes available and activates another Nauta purse, these available megabytes will be added to those newly contracted for.”
The price reduction comes a few days after the publication of two articles in the official newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) where the company Cuballama (Call Cuba), located outside the country, was accused of telephone fraud. However, the majority of comments left by readers pointed to Etecsa’s high prices as the main stimulus for illegalities.
In the announcement released Monday, the state monopoly confirms its intention to conduct a test of providing access for Internet browsing in 2,000 Cuban homes, at a date yet to be specified.