Cuba removed from FCC exclusion list, opening door for more U.S.-based CSPs

The FCC has removed Cuba from its exclusion list, opening up opportunities for more U.S.-based communications service providers to offer traditional telephone and Internet services to the country without needing to get separate approval from the regulator.

Three CSPs and Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) are already operating in Cuba since relations began to thaw.

Service providers looking for international Section 214 authority to provide facilities-based service to Cuba will be able to receive such authority sooner. Also, providers with existing Section 214 authority can provide services between the United States and Cuba without additional authorization.

Cuba was one of the last countries on the FCC's Exclusion List.

"Removing Cuba from the Exclusion List benefits the public interest as it will likely alleviate administrative and cost burdens on both the applicant and the Commission, and will promote competition on the U.S.-Cuba route," the FCC said in a statement.

Over the past year, the U.S. government has taken several steps to help Cuba get access to telecom services.

In late 2014, the Obama administration announced it would reopen diplomatic relations with Cuba.  

Following that move, IDT Telecom, Netflix, Sprint (NYSE: S) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) began offering services early last year. Cuba's state-owned and operated telecom ETECSA struck an agreement with IDT to provide direct international long-distance voice calls between the two countries.

Verizon and Sprint began offering international mobile services in the country, while Netflix launched its streaming video services in Cuba and other countries. 

Although the FCC's effort is promising, the reality is that Internet access is far too expensive for the majority of Cuba's residents.

When ETECSA introduced its Internet service via 118 outlets in 2013, it cost $4.50 per hour for Internet browsing. The average Cuban citizen makes about $20 a month.

ETECSA also announced it would begin offering ADSL-based Internet services to residential homes by the end of 2014.

For more:
- see the release
- USA Today has this article

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