Verizon Communications (VZ - Free Report) has become the first American cellular company to allow its customers to call, text, and use data in the once forbidden nation of Cuba.
The communications company does not own or operate any cell towers in the island nation. Verizon and local Cuban telecommunication companies have come to agreements that Verizon would use their cell towers for roaming services – meaning Verizon customers can use their cell phones to take Instagram photos of the beautiful beaches and arroz con pollo.
Roaming charges in Cuba are far from inexpensive. Verizon will be charging its customers $2.99 per minute for phone calls, $2.05 per megabyte of data used, and standard international rates for text messaging.
Not all cell phones are capable of receiving this treatment. Verizon also stated their customers traveling to Cuba have to subscribe to the Pay-As-You-Go International Travel Option before heading overseas, as well as the cell phone must be a designated “world device” with the capabilities of receiving signals in Cuba.
AT&T (T - Free Report) and T-Mobile (TMUS - Free Report) , two of Verizon’s primary competitors, currently do not have any form of roaming agreements with Cuban telecommunication companies. With that being said, AT&T and T-Mobile customers have the ability to purchase a SIM card from a local Cuban cell phone company to stay connected – so long those cell phones are not locked to the respective US network.
Verizon is among the first of a select few of US based companies commencing business relations in Cuba after the US eased diplomatic sanctions of the nation back in 2014. Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) , for example, began expansion into Cuba this past February and Americans can use their American Express and MasterCard credit cards to make purchases in Cuba.
More businesses will most likely be exploring the option of expanding into Cuba, especially when the specific details and rules of the eased embargo will begin on September 21st. The goal is to have a "stronger, more open U.S.-Cuba relationship has the potential to create economic opportunities for both Americans and Cubans alike,” stated U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew per Reuters.com.
For 53 years, there has been no economic relationship with Cuba primarily due to the fact the island nation is a Communist country. Hopefully, political tensions can be resolved and the US, Cuba, and their citizenry can all have a healthily relationship that benefits all parties involved emotionally and economically.
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