Telcos Get Rare Growth Opportunity In Cuba

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President Obama will allow U.S. telcos like AT&T (T), Verizon (VZ), and Sprint Nextel (S) to try to do business in Cuba, including wireless and TV service, the WSJ reports.

That could represent a rare growth opportunity for U.S. telcos: Cuba has about 11 million citizens, most of whom were banned from owning mobile phones until last year, and have limited options for mobile service. As far as we can tell, the only carrier selling mobile service in Cuba is Cubacel, co-owned by the Cuban government and Telecom Italia. So the move could present new subscriber opportunities as the U.S. market becomes more saturated.

But setting up service isn’t a done deal: We assume that telcos would have to negotiate for spectrum licenses, etc., just like they do in the U.S. That’s probably a more complicated process than it is here. And it’s hard to imagine that Cuban subscribers would be anywhere near as lucrative or profitable for a long time.

But still, good news.

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