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 Monday, March 31, 2008

Cubans finally will be allowed to have their own cellphones, under a decree issued today by new Cuban dictator Raoul Castro, who has been busily lifting some of the more onerous restrictions imposed by his older brother.

The move follows permission from Raul for the population, starting next week, to buy PCs, DVD players and other consumer-electronics gear and various appliances. Toasters will be available on the island starting in 2010, for instance, for the first time in more than a decade.

Cuba has had cellular service - both TDMA and GSM - but it has been restricted to companies, foreigners and top government officials. Coverage, outside of Havana and some major cities, is spotty at best and generally nonexistent. At least some Cubans, however, are said to have managed to circumvent the rules, generally by getting non-Cubans or others with the right to a phone to subscribe for them. But the bottom line has been that cellular penetration on the island nation has remained the lowest in the Western Hemisphere as a result of the long-standard ban.

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Source: TelecomWeb.