The world is constantly changing and different opportunities are emerging all of the time. It’s important that our carriers recognize this and behave accordingly: over time, cellular contracts are changed as customer needs change. Each carrier around the world has had to adapt to adapt to changing customer preferences with data becoming more and more important and voice calling less so. Part of the reason for this is because there are many VoIP, Voice over Internet Protocol, systems offering either free or very cheap calling at any distance. Whilst VoIP systems are very useful they are imperfect as they rely on each party using a compatible application: the most popular applications and services are available on most platforms, but sometimes one party does not have a reliable data connection? Or perhaps simply does not wish to use a VoIP system? It’s here when customers fall back on using the traditional telephone network and where our carriers need to provide an international roaming service.
To this end, both Sprint and T-Mobile US have launched international plans covering calling to Cuba. Sprint’s offering is called Sprint Cuba 20 Plus, which may be added to a customer’s domestic rate plan at a cost of $10 a month for twenty minutes of included calling to Cuba; overuse minutes are charged at 70 cents per minute. Sprint Cuba 20 Plus also includes no additional international charges for calling or texting to Mexico and Canada and discounted calling to 180 additional countries. Sprint’s Marketing Senior Vice President, Tom Roberts, said this on the matter: “Affordable international calling is an important feature for our customers. Sprint is the first national carrier to offer an affordable calling option to Cuba. We are continuing to expand our international offers for customers traveling abroad or while calling or texting from the U.S.” Sprint’s prepaid subsidiary, Boost Mobile, already offers discounted calls to Cuba whereby customers can pay from 70 cents a minute with a Todo Mexico Plus or International Connect plan. Sprint have recently improved their international roaming plans by allowing customers unlimited text messages and 2G data connectivity when roaming in twenty two countries around the world. T-Mobile’s offering, however, revolves around it’s prepaid business, MetroPCS. Here again if customers pay $10 a month, added to their regular charges they get twenty minutes of monthly calling to Cuba, which includes landlines and mobile phones. The bundle also includes unlimited calls to landlines in over seventy five countries around the word and two hundred minutes to cellphones in selected countries.
These are the first two Cuba calling deals in a market that appears ready to grow. Towards the end of 2014, US President Barack Obama announced that US telecom companies will be permitted to roll out infrastructure and provide commercial services to Cuba, which means that the US carriers are able to export and sell communications devices, software, hardware and other items as necessary in order to upgrade Cuba’s communications system. We’ve also seen AT&T Wireless building its network presence in Mexico with ambitions to combine the new network with the existing LTE infrastructure in North America.