World / Latin America

Cuba, US firms sign direct telephone traffic deal

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-03-15 09:00

HAVANA - Cuban and US telecom firms have signed an agreement to establish direct international voice traffic, basically in incoming and outgoing calls, Cuban official daily Granma reported on Monday.

Cuba's state telecommunications company Etecsa signed the interconnection accord with New York-based Verizon Partner Solutions, a division of Verizon Communications Inc, the report said.

The deal paves the way for direct telephone communication between the two countries, but Etecsa said in a statement the service won't be available until "the period of implementation and technical testing both operators are undertaking is complete." It did not provide a date.

One of the four big US telecom firms, along with AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, Verizon in September 2015 became the first US-based wireless company to offer travelers roaming service in Cuba, the company said on its website.

This latest deal is the third of its kind signed between Cuba and the United States since Havana and Washington announced in December 2014 their decision to restore diplomatic ties after half a century of animosity.

In February 2015, Etecsa signed a similar accord with IDT Domestic Telecom, and in November it signed a roaming agreement with Sprint.

US President Barack Obama is set to travel to Cuba for a visit, the first by a sitting US head of state since 1928.

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