US mobile giant Sprint Corp has announced that it has become the first US wireless carrier to sign a direct roaming agreement and a direct long-distance interconnection contract with Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA). Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure made the announcement in Havana as part of the US-Cuba Business Council (USCBC) delegation to Cuba, commenting: ‘As the commercial relationship between the US and Cuba continues to progress, it is expected that the number of travellers to Cuba will increase exponentially. We want to make sure any Sprint customer traveling to Cuba can use their phone the same way as they do in the United States’. More than three million people from around the world are expected to visit Cuba this year. Within ten years, that number is projected to grow to more than five million.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in September 2015 Sprint’s fellow US cellco Verizon Wireless unveiled Cuban roaming access as part of its pay-as-you-go ‘International Travel’ option. However, that agreement was reliant on an indirect roaming agreement with a third-party, and Verizon did not deal with ETECSA directly.