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Cuba is finally joining the modern world and it seems that its citizens are very eager to finally get cell phones

DailyTech previously reported on Cuba, at long last, lifting its ban on consumer cell phones.  The new allowance, enacted by Cuba’s new president, Raul Castro, pleased many, but some feared the phones would be too expensive to be popular.

However, it appears a healthy cell phone market has indeed risen in Cuba.   Alejandro was among the hundreds of Cubans in line at one of the state-run cell phone stores in Havana's colonial district.  A self-employed Cuban, Alejandro had long resorted to illegally using a cell phone registered in the name of a foreigner.  Now he can happily use his new phone legally.   He states, "It is an advance, like other things that are happening in Cuba now."

Mayerlin, a mother of two who was also in the line commented, "Before we had to get the line through a foreigner, who was the only person authorized to do so."

While the new phones will cost approximately 9 months pay for the average wage earner in Cuba, thousands are still expected to be purchased.  Gustavo, 33 years-old, was among those early adopters, willing to pay the premium, but did have critical words on the price.  He stated, "It is a very good measure, but what we earn does not correspond with the price."

The new cell phones will help Cuba, the Latin American country with the lowest cell phone use, get up to speed.  They will also allow Cubans to make international calls, an unfamiliar freedom.  Raul Castro says it’s all part of removing what he calls "excessive prohibitions".

Cubans now have access to PCs, DVD players, and cell phones all formerly banned for Cuban citizens' private use.  The average Cuban only earns $18 a month from the state.  The new consumer electronics are priced in convertible pesos (CUCs), which are worth 24 times standard pesos.  A cell phone costs roughly 60 CUCs and a line costs about 110 CUCs; together totaling about $65.  Mayerlin complained, "It is expensive for us. I can't pay that in one month or in 10 months."

She says that only Cubans who rent rooms to foreigners, work for a foreign company, or receive money from overseas could have such finances.  Others like Rosario Iglesias are just happy to have any access in the first place.  She states, "We used to go crazy looking for a foreigner to get us a line.  It is a very good decision that benefits all Cubans and raises our self esteem."

Cuban telecommunications monopoly ETECSA is running the cell phone effort, and promises to reinvest part of its earnings into further developing new lines.





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