In amongst all of the 2016 election “fun” that seemingly has no end in sight, Obama’s last two years in office seem set to be jam packed with initiatives and memorable moves. One of those will undoubtedly be the olive branch extended to ex-Cold War rival, Cuba. The Obama Administration is keen to bring the two nations closer together, and one of the ways this is happening is through communications. 2016 got off to a good start where US-Cuba trade was concerned, and now the United States’ largest wireless network has signed a deal to connect directly with Cuba.
As Reuters is reporting, Verizon Wireless and Cuba’s State-ran Etecsa have signed a direct interconnection deal together. This means that, voice calls and such will no longer need to be routed outside of Cuba to elsewhere and then back through the US, as the embargo and previous roaming deals dictated. This will cut out the middleman and a representative from Etecsa has said that the deal “will initially allow the offering of voice services through direct interconnection between the two countries and will be operational once implementation and technical testing requirements are completed by both companies”. Verizon was the first of the US carriers to sign a roaming deal with Cuba back in September of last year, but Sprint beat them to it in terms of direct connection, signing a similar deal to this one back in November of last year.
Obama’s Administration has opened up regulations to allow better trade between the US and Cuba, despite Congress’ refusal to lower the trade embargo entirely. This is just one area where the Cuban government is able to sign trade deals. Whether or not this is going to benefit Verizon – and Sprint – much in the long run is unclear, but should the trade embargo be lifted soon, the firms will no doubt benefit from already having deals signed with the Cuban authorities for some time prior. Obama has announced that his landmark visit to Cuba will take place next week, and there’s a possibility that AT&T could follow in Sprint and Verizon’s footsteps after the visit.