News and Facts about Cuba

AT&T, Verizon express divergent opinions on U.S.-Cuba route policies

AT&T, Verizon express divergent opinions on U.S.-Cuba route policies
April 7, 2016 | By Sean Buckley

AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ) are eager to take advantage of the
service opportunity in Cuba as the United States has started to lift
decades-long restrictions with the island country, but the two telcos
take a different view on U.S.-Cuba route policies.

At issue is a proposal by the State Department to remove all
nondiscrimination requirements that apply to the provision of
facilities-based services on the U.S.-Cuba route.

After Obama announced changes in U.S. policy on Cuba in
December 2014, a growing number of U.S. international carriers have
entered into operating agreements to provide direct service via the
U.S.-Cuba route.

AT&T says in a FCC filing that by removing the nondiscrimination
requirements, the regulator will drive more U.S. carriers to negotiate
more “flexible and cost-based arrangements” with Cuba’s incumbent telco
.

“Now that multiple U.S. carriers are able to provide direct service to
Cuba, and the former State Department and other restrictions addressed
above are being relaxed, the Commission should adopt the regulatory
policies that are necessary to promote competition and lower rates on
this route,” AT&T said in a FCC filing. “Such policies would benefit
users in both the United States and Cuba and stimulate the increased
communication that is the goal of U.S. policy toward Cuba.”

Verizon, while establishing its own agreements with Cuba incumbent telco
Etecsa to provide services on the island, said that the agreements are
still relatively new and the commission should be cautious about
altering the current rules.

“Verizon and a few other U.S. carriers have recently established
commercial agreements for direct traffic exchange between the U.S. and
Cuba, opening up long-dormant possibilities,” Verizon said in an FCC
filing. “However, these commercial relationships and the commercial
environment for telecommunications in Cuba are still developing.”

The telco said that the FCC “should therefore wait for these commercial
relations to become more firmly established before it removes all
nondiscrimination requirements on this route.”

Verizon said that Etecsa has not negotiated rates that comply with the
FCC’s 19 cents per minute benchmark. Today, Etecsa charges U.S.
providers 60 cents per minute.

In addition to higher connection rates, Verizon said “Cuba has limited
ingress points for communications that may create barriers to additional
competitive forces.”

For more:
– see AT&T’s FCC filing (PDF)
apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=60001535277
– here’s Verizon’s FCC filing (PDF)
apps.fcc.gov/ecfs/comment/view?id=60001535282

Source: AT&T, Verizon express divergent opinions on U.S.-Cuba route
policies – FierceTelecom –
www.fiercetelecom.com/story/att-verizon-express-divergent-opinions-us-cuba-route-policies/2016-04-07

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