Cuba's telecom company makes new resolutions in 2020

Cuba's Telecommunications Company ETECSA plans to activate 200,000 mobile lines and 634,000 new mobile internet connections in 2020, in line with the country's economic and social development resolutions.

This was assured by ETECSA's president Mayra Arevich during the last check of the computerization program of the society, headed by President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Prime Minister Manuel Marrero, reports the newspaper Granma.

Arevich explained that the cell phone network on Cuba is currently supporting over six million active lines, 70 percent of which are made through smart phones.

At the end of 2019, over 143,000 homes were connected to the Internet through the Nauta Hogar network, a figure that represents a growth of over 73,000 customers compared to 2018.

She set out that this year they will work on expanding the capacity and coverage of 4G technology and will benefit about 20,000 families with the installation of Internet in their homes.

During the meeting, the strategy defined by the Ministry of Communications for importing computer equipment was also analyzed, notes the daily.

On this issue, the need to make optimal use of financial resources was agreed, giving the national industry as much participation as possible.

The Cuban president insisted that the priority should be on the productions of the domestic industry, and cited as an example the laptop assembled in Cuba, 'Gedeme' brand, which has proven quality and usability.

  • Published in Cuba

ETECSA 2019: This Year Has Been One of Progress and Complexity

The steady increase of new services that certainly improved the quality of life of the Cuban people, as well as the commitment to the nation’s informatization and development, was a goal accomplished by ETECSA (Cuban Telephone Company) in 2019.

ETECSA faced a lot of challenges and benefited from several accomplishments in 2019, led by a strong will of continuing to grow in the field of networks and services for citizens, with a guaranteed commitment of quality.

This was the assessment of Tania Velázquez, first vice-president of the company, at a press conference earlier this month.

Many of the complexities faced by ETECSA are actually linked to the tightening of the U.S. blockade imposed on Cuba, which jeopardizes the shortening of terms of the digital divide that is separating us from the rest of the developed world; not to mention the damages caused by the tornado, which hit Havana last January.

To the aforementioned, we must add the challenge of implementing and displaying 3G/4G technologies, which have requested the dynamic increase of network capacities.

Having quality as a premise, ETECSA will end the year with more than 6 million mobile lines, 1.4 million fixed lines, 124.000 Nauta Hogar services, 1.161 navigation rooms — including third parties — 1.034 WiFi hotspots, and around 2 million Permanent Accounts for Internet browsing.

State-owned companies boast more than 48.000 Internet access connections, and ETECSA is working hard to offering individualized solutions to each of them, aiming to expedite their informatization and automation processes.

In total, nearly 3.268 radio base stations were installed for 2G/3G/4G technologies.

As part of the informatization of society, 190 new navigation facilities were created; namely, WiFi hotspots and navigation rooms set up nationwide. Each shows how much the company has improved.

More than 124.000 houses from each of the 168 municipalities of the country have access to Internet by hiring the Nauta Hogar service. A total of 938 People’s Councils everywhere in the island benefit, at least, from one sort of Internet access.

67% of these territories have a public navigation solution, and 49% have at least 3G coverage, which helps to get better quality in mobile Internet access, while almost a quarter have navigation areas in the wired mode (fixed rooms), and 47%, navigation areas in the wireless mode (WiFi).

As for the mobile Internet service, it is worth noting that after its launching on December 6, 2018, 1.2 million mobile lines — all met the necessary requirements — were activated in three days.

To date, there has been a growing demand, which translates into nearly 3.07 million mobile lines with access to Internet.

On December 2018, 46% of users had phones with the required characteristics to browsing, today this number rises up to 56%, which means 3.18 million users.

Of this total, 97% have been granted access mobile data, and last November, 72% of them made use of this service.

With regard to 4G technology — this service was launched last March — there are now more than 470 radio bases installed, and by the end of this year the goal is to reach 500 radio bases installed all around the country except for the province of Cienfuegos, whose technical availability will be ready next year. In the case of Havana, it is being projected that by the end of the year, 49.8% of its territory may enjoy 4G/LTE coverage.

Based on the strategy of moving 3G-network traffic to 4G/LTE-network, new offers were introduced to encourage users to exploit the virtues of 4G. One of them was the launching of Bolsa Diaria (Daily Package 150 mb / 1 cuc) for 24 hours after first use. In just ten days, more than 100.000 packages were activated.

After a first offer for high consumers, the company focused on average users and introduced affordable packages.

Thus, as of December 4, new options for Internet browsing via 4G/LTE-network were implemented. They provide continuity to that service expansion with more affordable prices.

In addition to this and as part of the informatization of society, the opening of a state-of-the-art Multiservice Center in Obispo Street back in mid-November, first of its kind in the country, was part of the celebrations for the 500th anniversary of Havana.

One of the many benefits of this new Multiservice Center is that citizens have now the possibility of learning more about digital services such as e-commerce and mobile data.

In 2019, as of July 22, ETECSA implemented new offers for website hosting for natural persons. This service of website hosting at the ETECSA’s Data Center, which kicked off last April, allows owners to manage their own websites for free from Nauta Hogar and national public hotspots.

At the same time, it guarantees the protection and stability of the web performance and makes easier the access of Internet users to these websites with cheaper prices using national navigation accounts (0.10 CUC / hour) from public accesses.

That month, users were notified of another new prepaid mobile phone service: Adelanta Saldo (Advance Balance Service) which allows, from meeting certain requirements, to recharge a balance advance of 1.00 or 2.00 CUC by dialing * 234 # and then check option #3.

Concerning e-commerce, the company developed, along with the national banking system, the Transfermóvil apk, which had more than 305.000 registered users in October and made more than 4.4 million monthly transactions.

Several promotions, as well as a new payment offer via Transfermóvil, are added this year to ETECSA’s actions, which will welcome 2020 with its permanent commitment to meet the needs of our users and society in general, by offering telecommunications services that contribute to the increase of the quality of life of Cubans, with a high social responsibility aimed at the informatization and development of the country.

On December 17, the company announced that six million mobile lines had been activated in the country, according to the Twitter profile of Mayra Arevich, CEO of the Cuban Telephone Company S.A. She pointed out that this figure was achieved "thanks to the effort, commitment, and love of ETECSA’s workers, contributing to the informatization process and celebrating the anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution."

Regarding the prospects for the Internet access in particular, CEO Mayra Arevich stated during the 2nd International Congress Cibersociedad 2019: “The Internet service in Cuba will continue to develop, not only regarding its widespread growth and rise, but also regarding its diversification.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

Six millions mobile lines already activated in Cuba

On December 17th, Cuba recorded a total of six millions mobiles lines activated, according to the Twitter profile of Mayra Arevich Marín, CEO of the Cuban Telecommunication Company (ETECSA).

Arevich Marín pointed out that this achievement was met thanks to “the efforts, commitment, and love of all ETECSA workers, who are contributing highly to the process of the informatization of society and saluting a new anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.”

The Facebook profile of ETECSA_CUBA Sancti Spíritus highlighted that user Yuniesky Morales González activated the mobile line number six millions and it occurred at the Jatibonico’s Commercial Office. Its workers decided to celebrate along with the young man the happy coincidence.

The Ministry of Communication, in its official website, while recapping the milestones of Cuba’s telecom infrastructure, recalls that it was back in 1991 — with the emergence of the joint venture CUBACEL S.A. — that the deployment of TDMA-network (800 MHZ) standard kicked off.

Afterwards, in 2001, the mobile phone service with the GSM-network standard was introduced, covering Havana and Varadero. It was back then when a government concession was granted to ETECSA for the provision and commercialization of a public service of telecommunication.  

Three years later — according to the source quoted — cellphone companies CCom and CUBACEL merged and become ETECSA’s branches. Hence, domestic cellphone coverage broadened with the GSM-network (900 MHZ) standard nationwide.

On April 4th, 2008, the commercialization of mobile phone service to natural citizens began, and ten years later, ETECSA reached five million active mobile lines.

From December 6th, mobile phones in Cuba enhanced their potential by allowing much more than voice traffic. It was that day when Internet browsing by mobile data began in Cuba, which is currently expanded and diversified with the use of 3G and 4G/LTE technologies.

On December 6th, 2019, ETECSA CEO stated “One year into the start of the Internet browsing via mobile data in #Cuba, we ratify our commitment to continue developing the process of informatization of society.”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff        

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Cubans denounce US blockade damages to communications system

Cuban communications workers denounced on Tuesday the damages to the development of the sector caused by the US blockade, which in the last year were valued at over 55 million dollars.

At a hearing convened by the National Assembly of People's Power (Parliament) Services Committee, those present rejected the limitations on purchasing technologies, information flow and Internet access caused by the US blockade.

They also pointed out that the tightening of Washington's hostile policy impacts essential technological processes in the computerization of Cuban society.

The President of the Telecommunications Company of Cuba (ETECSA), Mayra Arevich, confirmed that this entity is the most affected by the blockade, since it is subject to almost 99 percent of the total amount of damages in the sector.

She also referred to the use by the United States of cyberspace to try to subvert the Cuban political and legal systems, a role for which Washington created the Internet Task Force for Cuba in 2018.

Arevich noted that Cuba was forced to spend over two billion dollars above price in the international market last year to purchase the necessary supplies for ETECSA, due to being unable to purchase goods from the United States.

  • Published in Cuba

ETECSA aspires to complete telephone digitalization in Villa Clara

The technological reconversion process from analog to digital telephone plants is progressing at a good rhythm in Villa Clara with a chronogram that will benefit even the clients of the most intricate towns in the region, with completion date on November 15.

In statements to ACN, Dianitsy Barreto Martinez, communication specialist at the Cuban Telecommunications Company S.A (ETECSA) in Villa Clara, explained that once the action plan is completed in November, in Cascajal and Rodrigo, both in Santo Domingo, the province will then have 100% of its telephone plants digitalized.

Since the technological reconversion works began in May in Carrillo, Remedios, there have been completed between two and three plants per month, and of a 15 analogical ones still in the area, only six remain today.

The technological change offers a better quality in communication, improved services of landline telephony, increased capacity of the plants and the influx of data traffic with the possibility of buying the service Nauta-Hogar to those customers who want it, Barreto Martinez explained.

Nowadays, the marketing process of outdoor plant capacities for landlines is being carried out in already digitalized areas, an aspect that will gradually increase, the executive concluded.

(ACN)

  • Published in Cuba

ETECSA Keystone of Computerization in Cuba

The Cuban television show Mesa Redonda, specialized in debates and opinion trends, was recently dedicated to “The Roads of Computerization in Cuba”. Several officials and experts from the Ministry of Computing and Telecommunications in Cuba participated among them was the First Vice Minister, Wilfredo Gonzalez.

In her intervention at the show, Tania Velázquez, Vice-president of ETECSA, reminded the important role of the Cuban telecommunications company in the computerization process, not only with the infrastructure but with the facilitation of services, she pointed out.

She offered a wide report on the achievements in the increase, diversification, and accessibility of these services since the beginning in year 2000 of the Internet access with the prioritized sectors and the boost three years later with the Internet Rooms.

Further on the process of widening the services she specified that in 2013 rates in Internet Rooms was 4.50 CUC per hour, and 0.60 cents for domestic navigation.

For year 2014 access via cell phones to Nauta Mail was introduced thus broadening the reach to more Cubans. That year did not only saw the widening of services to the population, but a drop in the tariff to 70% on the managerial sector because prices were an obstacle for those first steps, she quoted.

She referred that the Nauta mail offered to Cuban citizens in their cell phones at 1 CUC per hour had an important acceptance.

In 2015, ETECSA took an important step with the widening of Wi-Fi spots to wireless Wi-Fi areas, bringing them closer to the neighborhoods. "And when those wireless areas were opened we went from 4.50 CUC per hour to 2 CUC per hour, and the demand went up. Users not only found connections closer, but they also saw well a significant discount".

The vice-president remembered how 2016 was not only particular for continuing with the strategy of diversifying services enlarging Internet rooms and Wi-Fi spots, but also because in that year was ran the pilot test to begin the Nauta Hogar services and were applied tariff discounts up to 1.50 CUC per hour.

The following year the Nauta Hogar offer was broaden and discounts were applied to navigation tariffs, in this case international navigation while it continued the promotion to access to domestic contents.

Year 2018 brought along as important landmark, said Velázquez, the opening of Internet service in cell phones, and also in that year took place a special offer for rural towns in the case of Nauta Hogar.

  

She highlighted that Internet in cell phones was really one of the things that has boosted connectivity in the last few months. “We agree, she added, that people appreciate that it can be cheaper, but in these six months we have had an important use of that service."

The ETECSA official also mentioned the introduction of the 4G technology that not only improves the quality of Internet connection but it also provides a greater level of capacity. In this regard she mentioned that there is already a large number of BTS (Base Transceiver Station) that will continue to increase at some important places like tourist resorts, and economic social sites in general.

She mentioned that in this year the new tariff discount for the corporate sector: a cut down of almost the 50% of all connectivity tariffs, which also accompanies the process of computerization of society.

In her speech she highlighted that "We have already reach 5,5 million mobile lines in Cuba; 2,5 millions of them have data mobile access".

Along with Internet access in mobiles other navigation forms have expanded: by the end of this first semester we will also have a hundred new navigation areas between wired and wireless connections that add up to 1 427 Wi-Fi areas, including those in the neighborhoods, and those on hotels and institutions.

There are at present more than two million Nauta accounts and she expressed that there are more than 87 thousand houses connected by Nauta Hogar. This figure will increase with 40 thousand new Nauta Hogar services this year. Also in companies and institutions connections were increased in about 2 500 for a total of 42 000 connections in the entire managerial system.

As for the topic of mobile access, the vice-president commented that they are working some indicators that allow them a feedback regarding the quality of the service. This allows, she added, to monitor when to make tariff discounts and where to increase BTS, among other actions.

This year 3G BTS have increased in more than 400 and more than sixty 4G BTS. The coverage done so far is substantial in both the population and the territories, but it isn’t enough, she said.

By the end of this first semester nearly 2,5 millions Cubans will have Internet access from their mobiles.

Cuba: Computerizing in a Cybersecurity Environment

At the recent “Mesa Redonda” (Round Table), weekly television opinion and debate show dedicated this time to the subject of the “Roads of Computerization in Cuba”, Miguel Gutiérrez, Director of Information Technology of the Ministry of Communications, stressed the importance of replacing foreign-made applications by homemade ones.

“This measure eliminates imports for license payments and mobilizes our productive forces,” he said. The expert also referred to the protection of the personal data of Cuban Internet users.

He reiterated that steps are being taken in that extent to elaborate a norm –process led by the Ministry of Justice with the participation of other entities, and pointed out that the current juncture in the country allows to see this issue more comprehensively.

Gutiérrez dug deeper into future cybersecurity-related actions to provide the population with the necessary tools in that order.

“We should continue our efforts to increase cybersecurity culture in the population, in all workers, in all leaders. Everybody should have that culture”, he said.

In his speech, Gutiérrez also approached certain phenomena spread today that are linked, among others, to the dissemination of fake news and banal contents.

He explained that such a situation has an international scope, but several countries are already taking steps to reduce the proliferation of those contents.

He informed that in Cuba “We are also assessing how to act on that dangerous phenomenon.”

He specified that “It is not normal to consider ordinary that people access harmful contents that do not correspond with the aspirations of our society.”

The official announced that the entity is working to promote that people behave ethical and respectfully in the cyberspace, as they do in the real world. As for those who conceal or forge their identity in the cyberspace, he urged them to be authentic and maskless because that prevents our identity from being forged.

“They are matters to continue stressing to prevent the cyberspace from becoming something that is not in keeping with what we want to promote.”

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / CubaSi Translation Staff

Cuba to make further progress in computerization despite U.S. blockade

Everyone’s right to have access to technologies compels us to perform our duties for its proper use. ETECSA (Cuba’s Telecommunication Company) is making further progress in the expansion, diversification, and accessibility to services.

We will be making further progress in the computerization and cybersecurity of the nation despite the U.S. blockade as well as the economic constraints we are dealing with. It is our political will and there are facts to prove it.

These were some of the statements made by Deputy Minister of Communication Wilfredo Gonzalez at the TV program Mesa Redonda “Caminos para la informatización en Cuba (Road to the computerization of Cuba).”

When he referred to the core pillars of the computerization and cybersecurity programs in the Greatest of Antilles, Mr. Gonzalez pointed out that telecommunications and computerizations are both part of the strategic development of the country in the conception of Cuba’s economic, social, and political model.

He also noted that the computerization process, with all the opportunities and challenges it raises, depends highly on the economic and social priorities of the nation.

Technologies must complement the main changes made by the revolutionary process. Mr. Gonzalez also said that these changes must be done with a great deal of consciousness, responsibility with the intention of safeguarding the country’s defense and integrity.

Another key principle is Fidel’s concept of not excluding any citizen. In this regard, the Deputy Minister highlighted that ETECSA has created several spaces and opportunities to allow the accessibility to services with different and reasonable prices.

He recalled that the initial strategy focused on developing the very first investment in places with great amount of people, whereas critical sectors of the economy and society, including the media itself, were among the most benefited at first.

By illustrating with examples, he mentioned the community project of Joven Club — some of them enjoy 100+ Mb — and the development of the Internet access from universities. The 60% of Cubans enjoys nowadays free access to Internet from their works and schools.

He mentioned the development of an infrastructure with national digital services as another basic pillar in the computerization of the island. To achieve it, it was necessary the outstanding training of our specialists.

Therefore, he insisted on the need to develop platforms and national digital services that contribute not only to a better access, but also guarantee sovereignty.

He illustrated the aforementioned facts with the 2+ millions users of NAUTA email.

Transfermovil apk — developed by ETECSA in collaboration with Cuba’s National Bank — is another example. He said this is a very useful tool. However, it is not being massive yet. Today, only 200,000 citizens are using it despite the number of existing cash cards: 5 million.

As the fourth pillar in the computerization process, the First Deputy Minister noted that “it was necessary to develop all services, infrastructures, and resources so citizens could always have access to them.”

As ETECSA expands infrastructures, prices will drop.

As to prices, Mr. Gonzalez highlighted campaigns organized by the opposition to give rise to dissatisfaction towards ETECSA and the prices to navigate on the Internet.

They are the same people who support the U.S. blockade against Cuba and they are fueling somehow the constraint experienced by our country. Their job is quite subtle: “who is going to be opposed to lower ETECSA prices? But our government has explained in details this concept: as the company expands in capacities, prices will drop, simultaneously.”

He also talked about differentiated prices in the access to national content as there is a firm intention to boost this sort of navigation.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSí Translation Staff

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