Heavy use of Cuba mobile e-mail service strains cellular network
Published June 25, 2014 EFE
More than 238,000 customers have signed on in just three months for a
new mobile e-mail service in Cuba despite its high cost, taking state
telecoms company Etecsa by surprise and causing network disruptions.
The number of people signing up for cellphone contracts on the island
soared between March and May, with a total of 173,098 new handsets on
the network, according to Etecsa, which said 238,687 wireless phone
users acquired a local e-mail address via the island's nauta.cu system.
"Growth was not expected to be so rapid," Etecsa's director of
institutional communication, Luis Manuel Diaz, said in an interview with
Communist Party daily Granma.
He acknowledged that "intensive use" of the new mobile e-mail service
has caused disruptions to wireless telephony, including an inability to
connect with other cellphones, dropped calls and text messages failing
to arrive at their destination or arriving only after a lengthy delay.
The new e-mail modality has resulted in 29 million e-mails being sent in
just three months, or an average of 400,000 e-mails delivered daily and
2 terabytes of data in total, the Etecsa director said.
The company said it hopes to solve the problems by installing 80 base
stations nationwide, 34 of which are already in place.
In early March, Etecsa announced the launch of this new service at a
price of 1 convertible peso ($1) per megabyte received or sent via
e-mail, a high rate for most of inhabitants of the island, where the
average salary is just $20 a month.
But demand has surpassed expectations despite the cost and the fact that
users can only send e-mails to - and receive them from - others with a
Mobile access to e-mail is a popular novelty in a country where the vast
majority of people lack a home Internet connection.
The Cuban government prioritizes Internet use in public places and
expanded that access in June 2013 by opening more than 200 new state-run
Etecsa was apparently surprised at how eagerly Cubans have taken to the
company's mobile e-mail service.
"A woman told me she checks her e-mail up to 80 times (a day) and that
(level of use) is more typical of a chat service. Normally people only
check their e-mail two or three times a day," Diaz told Granma. EFE
Source: Heavy use of Cuba mobile e-mail service strains cellular network
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