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FCC Lifts Cuba from Exclusion List

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FCC Lifts Cuba from Exclusion List

January 21, 2016

  By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor

U.S. telecom carriers will be able to provide telephone and Internet services to Cuba without separate approval from the FCC (News - Alert) International Bureau, thanks to the agency which lifted the country from its Exclusion List.

The list identifies countries and facilities that are not covered by grant of a global facilities-based Section 214 application and require a separate international Section 214. This removal is beneficial not only to telecom carriers, but to the public as well.

In its statement, the agency says the move is a positive step for U.S. businesses.

“Removing Cuba from the Exclusion List benefits the public interest, as it will likely alleviate administrative and cost burdens on both the applicant and the commission, and will promote competition on the U.S.-Cuba route,” the statement said.

Before the lift, service providers were required to get separate approval from the FCC before conducting services in Cuba. Until now, the country had access to just one modern, fixed Internet connection to the rest of the globe, The Wall Street Journal reported. This means that Cuba is on its way toward infrastructure investment.

Cuba is regarded as "a largely untapped market" that needs expanded wireless phone and Internet services, USA Today reported.

"Cuba has long ranked as one of the world's most repressive environments for information and communication technologies," according to a report from advocacy group Freedom House. "High prices, exceptionally slow connectivity, and extensive government regulation have resulted in a pronounced lack of access to applications and services other than email. Most users can access only a government-controlled intranet rather than the global Internet, with hourly connection costs amounting to 20 percent of the minimum monthly wage."

Service between U.S. and Cuba should commence “soon,” as noted by the Miami Herald.

Sprint (News - Alert) Corp. and IDT Domestic Telecom, Inc., a prepaid calling company, had sought the FCC’s approval to offer services to the island prior to its removal from the list. Verizon (News - Alert) is already offering “Pay-As-You-Go” roaming service.

Not only can firms now offer service in Cuba, but they can also establish interconnection agreements with ETECSA, Cuba’s main telecom operator.

Cuba’s elimination is a step toward normalization initiated by Washington and Havana in December 2014. The move from the FCC has been anticipated by the industry ever since the Obama administration’s December 2014 decision to reopen diplomatic relations with the country.

Edited by Rory J. Thompson
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