The Spanish multinational “Telefónica” wants to enter Cuba

The Spanish multinational "Telefónica" wants to enter CubaHAVANA, July 9th  According to what has transpired, Trinidad Jiménez (former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain and now Global Director of Public Affairs Strategy of Telefónica), met last June with Cuban authorities to assess the possibility that the “Telefónica” company operates in Cuba.

Jiménez, who was also Secretary of State for Ibero-America during one of the mandates of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, visited the island on June 11 and 12 on the occasion of the VI Telecommunications Congress, which took place in Varadero. During that meeting, according to the Spanish media, Jiménez interviewed several ministers with the aforementioned purpose.

The Spanish multinational "Telefónica" wants to enter Cuba

Trinidad Jiménez Foto:Getty

It should be noted that for many years Cuba has remained a market for which Telefónica has shown interest, without which until now it has been possible to make accurate progress in this regard. In 2009, the then director of Telefónica for Latin America declared during the XXIII Telecommunications Meeting of the Menéndez Pelayo University:

“If [Telecom Italia] wanted to sell their participation in Cuba, this is a very interesting market since the penetration levels of telecommunications services are lower than those of other countries, so when this is developed the opportunities are huge in a market with 11 million people. “

At that time, Telecom Italia was a minority partner of the Cuban Government with 27% of the shares of ETECSA, and the possibility of abandoning its presence in the country was opened.

Although that intention of Telefónica did not have major advances in the last years, the announcement of the opening of the use of the 3G technology to the whole of the population in Cuba seems to accelerate the possibilities, and also the necessity, of an opening of the ETECSA monopoly to other roads.

However, Telefonica sources have denied that negotiations for Telefónica’s entry into Cuba are already underway, because for the moment “there is no intention of the Cuban authorities to open the sector”, which does not mean that the Spanish side has not open a dialogue front.

On February 20, the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) announced an agreement with the Luxembourg SES to guarantee the support of the Internet service for the users “complementing the existing fiber optic through a satellite service of high capacity orbit” .

ETECSA has been working for five years on the expansion of the 3G network on the island, which until now has been the exclusive use of some privileged people, such as senior officials, institutions and diplomats.

For Isla is perceived as a desirable market for Telefónica, while it has 11 million inhabitants and there are only 4.5 million mobile lines. ETECSA aims to reach 50% of telephone density in the country in 2018, which would mean the existence of one million more lines.

However, given the unequal, inefficient and full of ups and downs of ETECSA, many Cubans living on the island are urging that communications in Cuba cease to be a monopoly in the hands of ETECSA and be opened to other companies, which would allow opting for a better service and the concept of competitiveness would also come into play.

Jiménez joined Telefónica as the Global Director of Public Affairs Strategy in 2016, and did so because, although she did not have experience in the telecommunications world, having been Secretary of State for Latin America opened her doors to the company because of its high level of contact with the governments of Latin America.

In 2007, Jiménez traveled to Cuba with the then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Miguel Ángel Moratinos. The objective of the diplomatic meeting was the opening of a new stage in the relations between Spain and Cuba after the almost null relations with the Government of José María Aznar.

Subsequently, Jiménez added to her experience the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, which meant the mediation between Cuba and the European Union for the opening of new political and commercial relations with Cuba.

The optimists of the new management of Trinidad Jiménez consider that she is a good connoisseur of the Cuban “bureaucracy”, and believe that this could favor her new mediation position in communications, the pessimists consider that in Cuba everything is slow and insist on that, if they do not want to open up, they will hardly do it.

With operations in Europe, Asia and North, Central and South America, Telefónica is listed as one of the largest telephone operators and mobile network providers in the world. In May 2017, Forbes magazine placed it in the 110th position of the largest companies in the world.