HAVANA, July 8th Cuban state telco Etecsa aims to have 4G mobile service coverage in all of the country’s 15 provincial capitals by year-end, said president Mayra Arevich.
In March, Etecsa started testing 4G in the northern district of capital Havana, just a few months after it commercially deployed 3G.
“3G is now available in Havana and the municipal capitals. We have started testing 4G in Havana and in the tourist hubs like Varadero and this year we aim to have 4G in all of the municipal capitals. Little by little, we are expanding mobile connectivity to more people,” Arevich said, speaking on the sidelines of a recent telecoms event organized by Asset.
Etecsa made access to 3G commercially available on December 6 with offers ranging from 7 to 30 Cuban convertible pesos (same in US$) per month for capacity in the range from 700MB to 4GB.
Cuba reportedly saw an uptake of 1.8mn users in the first 40 days.
The country had around 5mn mobile lines as of April 2018.
Most Cubans use the prepaid Nauta mobile internet card system, which last year had 1.7mn users.
Arevich said 3G now covers 85% of the population and Etecsa’s focus for this year is to continue expanding capacity to reduce prices and add more users, said Arevich.
However, access to mobile devices is a problem.
“It’s difficult due to the embargo. We don’t have any deals to buy phones at preferential prices, and people have to pay in cash. We have brought phones in but they are insufficient to meet demand,” he said.
However, Arevich underscored that besides basic connectivity, the government is implementing other types of connectivity programs for social and economic development.
Despite the US embargo, Cuba has developed a digital roadmap with 22 projects and two key strategic areas – ICT infrastructure rollout and the production of digital content and services.
Programs are focused on connecting educational and healthcare institutes and developing digital content.