UPDATE 1-Sprint unit launches prepaid cell-phone service to Cuba
(Updates with quote from company president)
By David Adams and Francisco Alvarado
MIAMI, April 16 (Reuters) - Boost Mobile, part of Sprint Corp, on Thursday launched a prepaid plan for U.S. consumers calling and texting Cuba, taking advantage of new, relaxed U.S. commercial regulations with the Communist-run island nation.
The Obama administration's new Cuban policy regulations approved by the Treasury and Commerce departments have opened the door for U.S.-based telecommunications firms to start potentially lucrative services to Cuba.
Last month U.S.-based IDT Corp reached an agreement with Cuba's Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba SA (ETECSA) to provide direct international long-distance service.
Boost Mobile offers prepaid wireless service to consumers with no need for long-term subscription contracts.
The company announced a $50 monthly plan, allowing customers to pay about $0.30 per minute, which it described as the lowest introductory rate per minute among prepaid carriers to call Cuba. The plan includes unlimited texting.
"That's a great value," Dow Draper, president of Boost Mobile and Sprint Prepaid, told a news conference. "We hope this is a meaningful start to reducing the costs of calls to Cuba in general, while gaining a few more subscribers."
In a show of solidarity with young Cuban-Americans anxious to improve connectivity with the island, the company is donating $10,000 to Roots of Hope, a group of young Cuban-American professionals at the forefront of President Barack Obama's policy of engagement with Cuba. Continuación...