Cuba's cellular accounts up 60%

Once restricted to foreigners and Cubans with key state jobs, cellphones have been available to all Cubans since April.

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February 9, 2009 09:52

 
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Cuba's telecom monopoly said Sunday that cellphone accounts have risen 60 percent to nearly a half-million since the communist government made private service available to ordinary islanders last year. Once restricted to foreigners and Cubans with key state jobs, cellphones have been available to all Cubans since April, when President Raul Castro's government lifted the ban. The communist youth newspaper Juventud Rebelde reported in its Sunday edition that some 480,000 cellular lines are now in use, compared with 300,000 before the change. The government recently lowered the activation charge to about $65 from $120 - half a year's wages on the average state salary. Most new cellphone users activated the service with money sent by relatives abroad, tips from tourism jobs or earnings from the island's ubiquitous black-market economy. Prepaid cards are used to place calls. The government also has increasingly assigned cellular phones at highly subsidized prices to homes unable to receive regular phone service because of too few lines.

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