El Salvador is a nation with more cell phones than inhabitants. In fact, according to the Superintendencia General de Electricidad y Telecomunicaciones, there are 7,445,736 mobile telephone lines for a country of 5.74 million people. Of these mobile connections, 6,286,967 are pay-as-you-go and only 663,736 are based on a fixed payment contract.
These numbers speak for themselves. As can be reported from almost any other developing nation it’s difficult not to encounter someone with a cell phone even in the most remote regions of the country. The penetration of mobile telecommunications has brought incalculable benefits to the economy. This is especially for small and micro enterprises that can monitor prices and sell their goods by contacting suppliers and wholesalers. A cell phone, could be argued, has given them a sense of formality since now they can be contacted more easily.
However, there´s been an unforeseen consequence of cell phone penetration in
Cuban state-owned telecom company ETECSA has again cut the activation fee for cell phones. Yesterday’s reduction means that the overall fee has now dropped 80 percent since cell phones were first allowed on the island in April 2008. The initial activation fee for pre-paid phone service has fallen to $43 from $120. The price reductions come less than two weeks after ETECSA announced reduced rates for existing service to start June 1, 2011, including reductions to the price per minute for off-peak calls.
With nearly 1 million cell phones currently in use in Cuba, ETECSA expects that the cut in price of activating a cell phone will increase their accessibility to Cubans and usage. ETECSA expects to exceed 1 million users by the end of this year and hopes to have 2.4 million users by 2015. However, ETECSA communications director Luis Manuel Naranjo told Juventud Rebelde that the slashing of fees “is not enough” noting the expense of servicing a cell phone bill continues to be “a costly challenge in terms of investment and resources” for many Cubans.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.