Verizon signs direct roaming agreement with Cuba’s state telecom

Verizon has signed an agreement that makes it the second U.S. carrier to offer direct roaming in Cuba. The deal with Etecsa, a government-owned telecom, will enable direct voice calls between U.S. and Cuba.

In November, Verizon rival Sprint became the first U.S. carrier to sign a direct roaming agreement with Etesca. That deal was actually announced one month after Verizon already began offering roaming for customers in Cuba using one of its Pay-As-You-Go travel plans. Verizon’s first roaming service, however, was made available through Vodafone instead of the Cuban government and very pricey, with voice calls costing $2.99 a minute and data $2.05 per megabyte.

Direct roaming, on the other hand, allows Verizon to connect calls itself instead of through third parties and is therefore less expensive, though it hasn’t announced prices yet. Etesca says the services will be available after the two companies finish technical testing.

U.S. telecoms have been allowed to partner with Cuban companies since September, ten months after President Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations between the countries. This is expected to create a huge boost in tourism, with Marriott International estimating that 1.5 million Americans will visit Cuba every year if travel restrictions are removed.

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