US-Cuba restore direct phone communications
Updated: 2015-03-12 09:38
HAVANA - Cuba and the United Stated have restored direct telephone communications that were most recently cut off in 1999, the state-run Telecommunications Company of Cuba SA (Etecsa) announced Wednesday.
The company said it reestablished direct interconnection between the two countries, initially for international calls, as a result of an agreement between the firm and US service provider Domestic Telecom, Inc. (IDT).
"Restoring direct (telephone) communications between the US and Cuba helps improve the installations and quality of the communication between the peoples of the two nations," Etecsa said in a press release.
Due to the US trade embargo, phone calls between the two countries had to be routed through third countries, making it more expensive and affecting quality.
The contract between Etecsa and Newark, New Jersey-based IDT was first reported on Feb. 20. The contract marks the first accord signed by companies from both nations since Washington and Havana announced in December they planned to restore diplomatic ties after more than half a century.
As part of the rapprochement, the US has relaxed some restrictions on doing business with Cuba, especially allowing US telecom firms to sell their services to Cuba.
Almost 2 million Cuban expatriates and their descendants live in the United States.