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US Government Lifts Export Restrictions on Telecoms Equipment to Cuba
Published on: 14th April 2012
President Obama's Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President had "directed that steps be taken to enable the freer flow of information among the Cuban people and between those in Cuba and the rest of the world, as well as to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian items directly to the Cuban people."
The specifics of the new policy towards Cuba, which has been under trade embargos since the time of President Kennedy, will authorize U.S. telecommunications network providers to enter into agreements to establish fiber-optic cable and satellite telecommunications facilities linking the United States and Cuba.
US mobile networks will also be allowed to enter into roaming agreements with the Cuban mobile phone network, Etecsa. US residents will also be able to pay the mobile phone bills generated by Cuban relatives.
Last year, Cuba's new President, Raul Castro lifted ownership bans on mobile phones, which has lead to a surge in usage for the mobile network operator. It is estimated that close to half a million mobile phones are now in use within Cuba. Former US President Bush Jnr also relaxed export bans to Cuba to allow US resident to post mobile phone handsets to their relatives in Cuba.
"Now that the Cuban people can be trusted with mobile phones, they should be trusted to speak freely in public," former President Bush said at the time. "If Raul's serious about his so-called reforms, he will allow these phones to reach the Cuban people."