By the Cuba Journal staff
New Jersey-based IDT has become the first US telecommunications company to negotiate a deal that will allow international phone calls between Cuba and the US.
According to the Miami Herald, IDT reached an agreement with ETECSA, Cuba’s telecommunications company, on Wednesday.
“This is an important first step in the liberalization of telecommunications between the US and Cuba,” said IDT chief executive Bill Pereira.
The deal represents progress in President Obama’s plan to improve relations with Cuba after decades of tension and restriction.
“We confirmed we’re ready to receive US telecom companies to explore business opportunities– business that could be of benefit to both sides,” said Josefina Vidal, Cuban Foreign Ministry official.
Later this month, a delegation of US officials will visit Havana to explore continuation of such progress.
Internet access in Cuba remains highly limited –available to just 5 to 25-percent of the population, according to the Herald’s report – and young Cubans are seeking better and cheaper methods of communication.
“The rules should make it explicit whether US companies are able to set up a storefront to sell cellphones and other consumer communications equipment and franchise such operations to Cuban entrepreneurs,” said New York lawyer Jose W. Fernandez, who believes this will more effectively allow the US to reach Cuba and open lines of communication.