Cuba Ends Cell Phone Ban

Still-pricey service is signal of new president Castro's promised reforms
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 28, 2008 12:50 PM CDT
People line up outside the Telecommunications Company of Cuba, or ETECSA, in Havana, Friday, March 28, 2008.    (AP Photo/Javier Galeano)
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(Newser) – The Cuban government said today it will lift restrictions on mobile phones for the first time, the BBC reports—a sign new leader Raul Castro is following through on reform pledges. Cell phone service will be made generally available next week; service fees will have to be paid in foreign currency, however, effectively narrowing access to richer Cubans.

Only employees of foreign companies or top government officials had previously been allowed access, making Cuban mobile use among the lowest in Latin America. Castro, after taking over from elder brother Fidel in February, lifted a ban on many consumer electronics earlier this month, and has loosened restrictions imposed upon the island's farmers.