Ilustration by Alfredo Martirena
The Cuban Telecommunications Company (Etecsa) reduced cell phone rates some 22% in domestic calls, which from now is 35 cents per minute CUC (1 CUC = 1 USD at the official rate) from 7 am to 11 pm and will apply it to all modalities: prepaid, postpaid and collect calls between phones.
From 11 PM to seven AM the rate stays at 10 cents per minute.
Since last year the Cuban phone company changed its commercial policy, with the obvious aim of promoting the development of cell lines, which at the end of 2012 accounted for 1 680 000, surpassing the number of landlines.
The current reduction was preceded by the 43% decrease in the price of text messaging and another 25 to calls, along with several promotions, including the offer to users to buy a line with the full price as balance, with a high level of acceptance that broke sales records
Another marketing mechanisms the company has used and will come into force in the coming days, is the maturity of the line corresponding to the amount of recharge money, ranging from 30-day activation for those who deposit 5 CUC to 330 days for 40 CUC or over, in all cases the ownership remains for another 30 days after being inactive.
Also, frequently the company has offered topup deals from abroad for the prepaid modality which doubles the paid amount, which in fact constitutes a further price reduction, while allowing the company uptake of fresh currency.
“Calling party pays” mode is another has been extended to all cell modalities in the country in recent days too.
The deputy director of mobile service at Etecsa, Hilda Arias, recently assessed that rate reductions may not seem to fulfil the expectations and needs of the people, but as soon as they make new investments and improve traffic quality, with better networks, further modifications may be applied, she said
"Our strategy continues being to provide better access to mobile communications for the majority of people, and for that we study and analyze new possibilities, such as service payments from the mobile," she said.
Another new feature implemented is a test for mobile phone rates in three low-traffic areas where costs of calls is 20 cents per minute.
This is the case of the towns of El Cobre, in eastern Santiago de Cuba; Matahambre Mines, in the western province of Pinar del Rio and Abreus, in the central area of Cienfuegos, officials said that according to the results, this variant could be spread to other areas of low network usage.
The current dual circulation in Cuba (Cuban pesos, CUP, and CUC Cuban convertible pesos-) also applies to telephony. In the case of landlines, residential prices are the lowest in the world, with the cost of a cent of a CUC per 11 minutes, for the first 300 minutes.
In contrast, cellular service is among the most expensive in the world, where the trend has been a decrease in search of stimulating its use over landlines, which has higher costs of installation, maintenance and operation.