Updated 09:30 AM EDT, Sun, Oct 25, 2020

FCC Removes Restrictions on U.S. Telecom Services in Cuba

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The Federal Communications Commission, or FCC, has lifted its restrictions in Cuba last Friday.

Telecommunications companies in the United States can now easily offer services in the Communist nation, a report from Time stated. Cuba was the last country to be removed from the FCC's exclusion list.

A press release from the agency said that removing the exclusion will reduce financial and administrative troubles. The move could also "fuel more competition among telecom carriers interested in the market," FCC added, as reported by USA Today.

Before Friday, service providers were required to get separate approval from the FCC before conducting services in Cuba. The Caribbean island's population of approximately 11 million has just one modern, fixed Internet connection to the rest of the globe, the Wall Street Journal wrote. This means that Cuba is ready for new infrastructure investment.

FCC's latest decision didn't come as a surprise since Barack Obama's administration reopened diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba in late 2014, USA Today noted. When the renewal of diplomatic relations was announced, the U.S. government said that telecommunications firms will be among the first industries to set up shop in Cuba.

In September, the departments of Commerce and Treasury lifted a chain of restrictions on Americans traveling to and doing business in Cuba, the news outlet wrote. The changes, which include investment, banking, and joint ventures, allowed American businesses to create a "physical presence" in the country and employ Cubans to work in their offices.

Cuba is regarded as "a largely untapped market" that needs expanded wireless phone and Internet services, USA Today added. In June 2013, Cuba provided access to its new high-speed Internet connection to citizens at chosen, censored cyber points "at prices few can afford," according to a report from advocacy group Freedom House. The report also indicated that only around 5 percent to 26 percent Cubans have Internet access.

"Cuba has long ranked as one of the world's most repressive environments for information and communication technologies," Freedom House's analysis of the Cuban Internet market read. "High prices, exceptionally slow connectivity, and extensive government regulation have resulted in a pronounced lack of access to applications and services other than email. Most users can access only a government-controlled intranet rather than the global internet, with hourly connection costs amounting to 20 percent of the minimum monthly wage."

Regularly scheduled service between the U.S. and Cuba should also be expected to commence soon, Miami Herald reported. The U.S. government is expected to allow up to 20 flights daily to Havana and 10 each day for nine other Cuban cities with international airports.

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