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Castro allows Cubans to use mobile phones

Cuba's new President Raul Castro has decided to allow Cubans to use mobile phones, until now restricted to foreigners and government officials, in an effort to curb the black-market trade in phones. (Story: R. Martin)

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Cuba's new president has authorized Cubans to officially get mobile phones, until now mainly reserved for foreigners and government staff, the state telecommunications company announced Friday.

Mobile phones are already prevelant in Cuba but until now Cubans had to acquire them through a third party and could not obtain a service contract in their own name.

In a statement in the official daily Granma the state telecom ETECSA said it was offering mobile phone service to the public through personal prepaid contracts paid in foreign currency.

The latter stipulation will restrict the new measure to wealthy Cubans, many of whom already have cell phones obtained through friends or relatives abroad.

"In the next days the public will be informed of the procedures for changes of title for Cuban citizens who to date have acquired cell phones indirectly, and the initiation of new contracts for interested Cubans," the statement said.

Mobile phone access was among the measures Cubans hoped to see after Raul Castro took over as Cuban president from his brother, Fidel Castro, in February, ending almost 50 years under his rule.

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