AT&T becomes latest U.S. telecoms operator to offer roaming in Cuba

Posted: 24-Oct-16 11:00

Following in the steps of other U.S. telecommunications companies like Verizon and T-Mobile, AT&T has been the latest American operator to offer roaming services in Cuba. As of last Tuesday, AT&T cellphone customers will be able to use their phone in Cuba to talk, text and roam the internet where available. Together with the announcement AT&T also unveiled the applicable rates for the new service in Cuba with voice calls charged at $3 per minute and SMS tests at $0.50 per message.

AT&T becomes latest U.S. telecoms operator to offer roaming in Cuba

AT&T has joined the list of US telecom operators to offer roaming service in Cuba, becoming the latest to enable American mobile phone users to use their devices in the island to call, text and browse the internet. With this move AT&T finally follows the lead of other American operators like Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, with Verizon becoming the first U.S. telecom to offer data and calls to Americans visiting Cuba.

Starting 18th October, AT&T cellphone clients will be able to make talk, send SMS messages and use data during their time in Cuba. Thus, AT&T becomes the fourth US company to offer roaming access in the island nation. During the official announcement AT&T also unveiled the rates applicable for the use of such services in Cuba. While voice calls are priced at US$3 per minute, SMS messages are charged at $0.50 and MMS texts at $1.30, while data usage costs $2.05 per megabyte.

Regardless of the new Cuba service enabling AT&T customers to use their phone in the island, American visitors are reminded that Cuba’s mobile network coverage is limited in some areas and in some aspects. While voice calls from mobile phones work fine, internet access is very slow and extremely limited, ranging from patchy to non-existent in some places. Despite Wi-Fi internet being available in more and more areas around the country (mostly in Havana), some U.S. cellphone users trying to get online via Wi-Fi hotspots in Cuba have experienced blocked access to some popular sites like Google (including gmail and google analytics) Citibank and news site like Business Insider. According to an article published on Cuba Journal, oddly enough, they were able to log onto gmail via their smartphones but not from a desktop or laptop.

The stampede of American travellers making their way to Cuba now that commercial flights from the U.S. to the island have resumed with a total of 110 daily approved routes, more companies are lining up to make the journey easier for U.S. visitors, many of whom expect and need their phones to work during their time in the island.

Cuba is advancing slowly when it comes to reliable internet service, taking baby steps, one at a time, with the latest move by local state-owned telecommunications company ETECSA being the expansion of a Wi-Fi hotspot along Havana’s Malecon seawall. Google has also pledged to improve internet access in the island, getting involved in community projects with local artist KCho. What’s in store for the future of internet connectivity in Cuba? We’ll have to wait and see as things develop, slowly but surely, no doubt. 


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