More flexible rules of the game for cell phones in Cuba By: IPS Cuba ETECSA generalised the option of charging calls from cell phones only for the mobiles making the call, and announced a new tariff discount.
The Cuban Telecommunications Company (ETECSA) finally gave in to one of its clients’ demands and stopped charging the cell phone that receives the call from another mobile phone. A few days later it announced a reduction in the voice tariff in that communication system. Since Jan. 10 only the person making the call pays, including the operations from Alternative Fixed Telephony, announced the powerful company, which absorbed in 2004 the mobile telephony services that were previously supported by the Cubacel and C_COM companies. ETECSA announced to the press that “all calls received from any mobile phone in Cuba will be free of charge” for the persons getting the calls. The Information and Communication Ministry (MIC) had introduced that formula Jan. last year through Resolution 12, but its application was hindered by norms of presentation of the incoming calls and was limited only for telephones paid for in convertible pesos (CUC); if the call was from a line defrayed in Cuban pesos (CUP), the person who got the call also paid. Now, by including “all the services supported based on the mobile network in the modality that only the person who calls pays, the 00 code at the beginning of the number and the 88 at the end is eliminated,” the press
note published on the week of Jan. 7 added. The *99 code modality, however, is established to revert the charge, if the owner of the line wishes. “In the case of incoming international calls, they are maintained as up to now, free of cost and with the 00 at the beginning,” the company’s Institutional Communication Department explained. On the following day of this formula coming into force, ETECSA reported in a press conference that starting next Jan. 16 it will apply a reduction in its mobile telephony tariff, from 0.45 CUC per minute to 0.35. From 11:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m., the minute will continue costing 0.10 CUC, according to Resolution 2 of 2012 of the MIC. The announcement confirms comments made in Dec. to the National Assembly of People’s Power by Information and Communication Minister Maimir Mesa regarding the measures to cheapen mobile telephony and generalise the option of “the person who calls pays”. The minister also spoke about extending the useful life of the acquired lines, a measure still being studied, as was ratified by ETECSA officials this week. The voice tariff reduction in the cells follows a reduction of 0.60 to 0.45 CUC made in 2012. For several years, Cubans with cell phones complained and criticised that they had to pay for any incoming call on their mobile if they answered, when in general in the world the person who gets the call is never forced to pay for these calls. Lastly, ETECSA accepted to put into practice the most universal norm. However, the company maintains as a rule that when the call is made from a fixed phone to a mobile one, the last, even if it is the person receiving the call, has to pay for it. The tariff reduction and making flexible the marketing policy of the company responds to the strong expansion of mobile telephony in Cuba. According to statements made on Friday Jan. 11 by the marketing director of the company, Tania Velázquez, the measures will benefit the owners of 1.680 million prepaid mobile lines in the country. Velázquez also confirmed that other modifications will be adopted, with the aim of upgrading quality, increasing services and bringing them close to the majority of the population. Some of the options recently offered by the company to its clients, since Sept. last year, include that persons that communicate from a public phone located in hospitals, pharmacies, research centres, funeral parlours, cemeteries, maternal homes, public transport and airport terminals have the possibility of making local and national (not international) calls with reverted charge. (2013)