One of the key moments of the first day of the 33rd Havana International Trade Fair, Fihav 2015, was the signing of the first agreement between the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA) and Sprint Communications Company LP., of the United States, to provide customers of this U.S. company with the possibility of making and receiving calls and text messages and transmitting data, when using their cell phones in Cuba.
Hilda Arias Pérez, central director of ETECSA Mobile Services signed on the Cuban side, while Marcelo Claure, president of Sprint, did so on behalf of the U.S. firm.
This is the first agreement to provide direct roaming services (allowing cell phones to remain operational when traveling to Cuba) between both countries.
Vivian Iglesias, director of ETECSA International Services, explained that the services will commence once technical tests are completed and final details regarding financial transactions are resolved.
She added that payments for these services continue to be made through banks in third countries and in currencies other than the U.S. dollar, given the continued blockade on Cuba.
Meanwhile, Marcelo Claure, president of Sprint, noted that through these agreements citizens of both countries will be able to communicate and Sprint customers will be able to use their cell phones when traveling to Cuba. He added that this is a very important step and that he hoped other companies would follow suit.
On September 22, 2015, the two companies also signed an agreement for direct interconnection via the ALBA-1 submarine cable, allowing for direct telephone calls between Cuba and the United States.
It was further reported that the negotiation process continues to increase other services.
Sprint Communications Company LP. is a telecommunications company based in Overland Park, Kansas, the U.S., which provides mobile and fixed telephone services, as well as being a global provider of internet and data services.
It is also the third largest wireless telecommunications company in the U.S., with its own 100% digital and fiber network.
It also emerged that the blockade regulations have prevented the commencement of services between ETECSA and Sprint on the agreed date and the proper development of business schemes in telecommunications that have the approval of the U.S. government, as Cuba can not carry out transactions with U.S. banks and banks of other countries fear the sanctions they may incur for performing these operations.