Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that relations between the U.S. and Cuba will relax, allowing for new trade and political ties, many in the telecom sector see Cuba as a fresh frontier for wireless and broadband business.
The White House’s fact sheet on the Cuba announcement specifically details a communications opening in the broadband sphere:
The commercial export of certain items that will contribute to the ability of the Cuban people to communicate with people in the United States and the rest of the world will be authorized. This will include the commercial sale of certain consumer communications devices, related software, applications, hardware, and services, and items for the establishment and update of communications-related systems.
Telecommunications providers will be allowed to establish the necessary mechanisms, including infrastructure, in Cuba to provide commercial telecommunications and internet services, which will improve telecommunications between the United States and Cuba.
Seeing as how only 5% of Cubans have access to the internet, broadband providers have their work cut out for them — oh, and much money to be made. The island will be a new market for software, hardware, information technology, and enterprise technology. With one of the lowest rates of internet penetration in the world, no doubt American telcos are already looking at how to nab the biggest slice of Cuba’s pie. Given that the current cost of telecommunications in Cuba is very high, with very limited services, there is much room for competition.
Cell service, wired connections, and internet infrastructure are some of the major technological build-outs that Cuba will hopefully enjoy in the near future as relationships between the country and American telcos change. What will be of particular interest is how the island embraces high-speeds of the aforementioned communications tech. With a lack of legacy infrastructure, will Cuba be able to bypass the hardwired cell and broadband technology of years past? Will the country skip over the installations the U.S. and other countries are working to update? If so, the island could enjoy high-speed connections much more quickly than other countries which have worked to install them over legacy systems. Cuba could truly be the next frontier for communications tech with infinite potential to test new technologies and power up the most modern of connections.