The International Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that it has removed Cuba from its Exclusion List, opening the door for US telecoms carriers to provide facilities-based telephone and internet services to the island without separate approval from the FCC. Cuba was the last remaining country on the FCC’s Exclusion List. The regulator said that the move ‘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 US-Cuba route’.
In December 2014 the US announced landmark steps towards normalising relations with Cuba, initiating new efforts to increase Cubans’ access to telecoms and their ability to communicate freely, notes TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database. In March 2015 New Jersey-based IDT Telecom began handling direct international long-distance (ILD) traffic between the US and Cuba, after signing a deal with state-owned telecoms monopoly Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA), while later in the year cellcos Verizon and Sprint launched international mobile roaming services on the island.