Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cell phone usage in Cuba and in Haiti

 1 out of 10 Cubans has a cell phone in Cuba versus 4 out of 10 Haitians in Haiti
Man rents cell phone chargers in Port-au-Prince  Reuters/Eduardo Munoz
 Some argue that comparing Cuba with the United States or other developed economies such as Chile is unfair. One wonders how they will react to the following comparison between Cuba and Haiti?

In 2012, Cuba a country with a population of 11 million had 1.3 million cellphones; while Haiti a country with a population of 10 million had 4.2 million cellphones. Breaking it down on a per capita basis: 42% of Haitians in Haiti have cell phones whereas in Cuba only 12% of Cubans have cell phones.

The numbers above are taken from CIA world factbook on the Science Daily website. Havana times based out of Cuba places the number of cell phones in Cuba at 1.6 million as of May 2013.

And, before the Pavlovian response kicks in the U.S. embargo has nothing to do with it. Treasury Department regulations with regards to telecommunications in Cuba are self-explanatory:

1. U.S. telecommunications services providers are authorized to engage in all
transactions incident to the provision of telecommunications services between
the United States and Cuba, the provision of satellite radio or satellite
television services to Cuba, and the provision of roaming services involving
telecommunications services providers in Cuba. Please see: 515.542(b).

2. Section 515.542(c) authorizes persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to
contract with and pay non-Cuban telecommunications services providers for
services provided to particular individuals in Cuba (other than certain
prohibited Cubans). For example, an individual in the United States may pay a
U.S. or third-country telecommunications company to provide cellular telephone
service for a phone owned and used by that individual's friend in Cuba.
Likewise, a U.S. telecommunications services provider may enter into a contract
with a particular individual in Cuba to provide telecommunications services to
that individual.

3. Transactions incident to establishing facilities to provide
telecommunications services linking the United States and Cuba, including
fiber-optic cables and satellite facilities, are authorized pursuant to:
515.542(d)(1). OFAC also may issue specific licenses on a case-by-case basis
authorizing transactions incident to establishing facilities to provide
telecommunications services linking third countries and Cuba in certain
circumstances pursuant to': 515.542(d)(2). 
The Cuban government only allowed the sale of cell phones to every day Cubans in 2009. Whereas the Bush Administration lifted restrictions on cell phones being shipped to Cuba in 2008, when Raul Castro allowed Cubans to own them. The liberalization of U.S. regulations in telecommunications has continued under the Obama Administration.

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