Calls to Cuba can now be made by Sprint customers using their mobile devices under a new add-on Sprint Cuba 20 Plus calling plan that is available immediately.
The Sprint Cuba 20 Plus plans offer 20 minutes of international calling to Cuba per month for $10 (50 cents per minute), while additional minutes can be purchased for 70 cents per minute. The plans were announced by Sprint on June 15.
As part of the Sprint Cuba 20 Plus calling plan, there are no additional international charges for calling or texting to Mexico and Canada, and there is discounted calling to 180 additional countries. The plan does not include audio, picture or video messages and excludes international roaming and some other call types, according to the company. All calls use Anytime Minutes from a Sprint customer's domestic calling plan, and applicable rates and texts will be counted against a customer's text allotment, if necessary.
"Affordable international calling is an important feature for our customers," Tom Roberts, senior vice president of marketing for Sprint, said in a statement. "Sprint is the first national carrier to offer an affordable calling option to Cuba. We are continuing to expand our international offers for customers traveling abroad or while calling or texting from the U.S."
Customers can add the Cuba calling plan to their accounts online or by calling or visiting a Sprint location.
Communications between the United States and the Communist island of Cuba have been improving in recent months as the long U.S. embargo of Cuba, which began in 1962, has been slowly thawing.
In March, Cuba's state telecom service, Etecsa, approved the startup of Cuba's first public, open WiFi services, which began recently in Havana's central cultural center building. That means that, for the first time, Cubans can now have a place where they can have free, open use of the Internet, even though it will sometimes be slow and spotty, depending on user load and other conditions, according to an earlier eWEEK report. The service is being provided due to famed artist Kcho, who organized the effort at his own expense to benefit his local community.
In August 2014, Google made its Chrome Web browser available for use in Cuba, bringing it to the residents of an island where Internet access can be difficult to find and afford, and where free communications is not something guaranteed by their government. Censorship on the Internet by the government is a fact of life in Cuba.
Google has also made the Chrome browser downloadable in Syria and Iran in recent years.
Cuba, which is some 90 miles off the southeastern coast of Florida, has a patchwork of old and beautiful cities and towns, throwback American vehicles that date back to the 1950s, a proud and rugged population, and a long legacy of government control, Communism and economic stagnation.