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Restored diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba opened the door for U.S. companies to conduct business after a 50-year stalemate ceased any transaction between the two countries.
A lift on travel restrictions meant cruise liners, like Carnival, could promote seven-night voyages to the Caribbean island. Airbnb began offering their own deals, and MasterCard and American Express holders were free to swipe charge cards overseas. Even Netflix began offering streaming service, though only about five percent of Cubans have internet access.
Now Verizon, the second-largest wireless carrier in the United States, is giving travelers something no other phone retailer provides: the ability to call, send text messages, and use international roaming data in Cuba.
"Our customers are citizens of the world, and we want them to seamlessly enjoy a great Verizon experience wherever they travel. By offering international services while traveling in Cuba, we are making it simple and easy for our customers to stay connected wherever and whenever they choose," said Javier Farfan, vice president of cultural and segment marketing for Verizon, in a statement posted to Verizonwireless.com.
Beginning this week, Verizon subscribers can add a Pay-As-You-Go International Travel plan to their current contract, which prices voice calls at $2.99 and data at $2.05 per megabyte. Standard international messaging rates apply.
Verizon doesn't have any cell towers in Cuba, but they do have agreements with local telecom companies similar to what Mexico's Moviestar and the United Kingdom's 02 provide to roaming customers.
Not to be outdone, Sprint announced they plan on extending roaming services into Cuba as well. A company spokesman told Reuters they would be expanding "soon" but didn't give a specific time frame.