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Within the first ten days of the new, open cellular policy in Cuba, 7,400 cellphone accounts have been opened by regular Cuban citizens. The 7,400 contracts were opened for about $110 via Cuba’s only (and state-owned) wireless provider, ETECSA. Handsets cost around $75 — no cheap proposition when you consider that the average Cuban citizen’s annual state salary is around $240. Previously, contracts could only be opened by government officials or foreigners. 7,400 is a tiny slice of Cuba’s 11.4-million person population (.0006%), but it’s a start.

Cuba’s telephone monopoly says 7,400 new cell phone accounts have been contracted in the 10 days since all Cubans were allowed to sign up for service.

Previously, cellular phones were offered only to foreigners or Cubans in top government positions or jobs with foreigners. But many other Cubans already had cell phones through contracts foreigners opened for them.

ETECSA phone company official Maximo Lafuente Vazquez says about 300,000 cellular lines already existed on the island before April 14, when President Raul Castro’s new government lifted the restriction on service. Lafuente’s comments appeared Thursday in the Communist Youth newspaper.

A cell phone contract costs about $120 to activate — half a year’s wages on the average state salary.

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