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We are Lee-Anne & Jusnier ('Turbo' to his friends).
An English/Cuban couple who know Cuba like the back of their hands, and would like to share their first-hand knowledge with you!

Lee-Anne & Jusnier Blanco - Cuba Rocks!

Helping you discover the REAL Cuba!

Can I use my Mobile Phone in Cuba?

Whenever we go to Cuba, (which is currently about two or three times a year), we always take our UK mobile phones with us, and use our UK SIM.

We both have a contract with Orange, (basically because we live in Rural Suffolk, and it’s the only network that gives us a signal in our house!)

We both currently have iPhones, (but I’ve had an android in the past without problem)

Once we arrive in Cuba, the sole network provided for Cuba (Cubacel) finds us almost immediately we turn our phones on, and welcomes us to Cuba. We then receive an SMS text from Orange telling us about their roaming charges for Cuba.

Will my mobile phone work in Cuba?

Most mobile phones work fine in Cuba, as they operate on GSM900 - the same as the UK.

Texting and calling will work from your UK mobile phone in Cuba without any problem.

It’s a good idea to talk to your service provider before you go, to inform them that you are going to Cuba, and to check whether your particular phone will work there.

What’s the best way for your family to contact you in Cuba?

It’s a good idea to tell friends and family that you are going to Cuba, and for them NOT to phone you while you are on holiday.

It’s also worth telling them NOT to leave you a voice mail unless in an emergency – you have to pay to receive the call and if a voice mail is left you have to pay to receive the voicemail too, and then you have to pay again to listen to it.
It can end up costing you a small fortune!

If family do need to contact you, then get them to send a text message, as it’s free to receive. 

I’m with Orange and it currently costs me £0.24p to text Cuba from the UK.

Help plan your trip to Cuba. Personal Itinerary & Trip Planning to Cuba

What costs should I expect for mobile phones in Cuba?

How much does it cost to make a call from a UK mobile in Cuba?

It’s not cheap to use a mobile phone in Cuba.

I’m with Orange and it currently costs me £1.75 per minute to call someone in the UK (or other countries) from Cuba, and £1.00 per minute to receive a call in Cuba.

There are some international bundles available, but you need to consider if they are really worth it.

Go to your provider’s website to get the current charges for calls and texts for Cuba and also check if they have good roaming in the area that you will be visiting.

How much does it cost to send an SMS text message from Cuba?

SMS text messages are not cheap- but they are cheaper!

I’m with Orange and it currently costs me 50p per text message (160 characters), to send a text to a UK (or other country) mobile from Cuba.

How much does it cost to use mobile data in Cuba?

I’m with Orange. Their website is currently quoting £8.00 per megabyte of GPRS/EDGE for data use in Cuba.

I’ve never used the service, so cannot personally guarantee that it will work.

What will 1 megabyte get me?

Well, if you assume that each text based email is between 3Kb and 20Kb, then 1Mb will give you about 50 text based emails.

Web pages with graphics take up much more data. For 1Mb of data, you will probably only get to see a couple of web - pages.
So for £8 for 2 web pages I ask myself “Is it really worth it?” Why not take this opportunity to get away from emails and the internet and have a holiday?

There are (limited & slow) internet services in Cuba – which will be the subject of another blog.

Is it worth taking our mobile phones to Cuba with us?  

Absolutely!

If only for texting within your group, to arrange to meet up, if you get delayed, or if you get lost.

Casa Particular hosts ask that you contact them 24 hours before you arrive to reconfirm your booking. Most Casa hosts now have mobile phones, so if you had your mobile with you, you could send them a text message to reconfirm your booking.

Can I use my iPhone / Smartphone in Cuba?

If you have a smart phone, you can make calls, but your email & data functions probably will not work in Cuba.

Can I use a Wi-Fi connection for my iPhone / smartphone in Cuba?

You can access the Wi-Fi on your iPhone, but there are no free Wi-Fi hotspots in Cuba.

To my knowledge, Wi-Fi is currently only offered in about 8 high-end hotels in Havana, and it’s SLOW!

You will need to buy an internet card from the hotel for 8-10CUC per hour.

Will my apps work on my iPhone / smartphone in Cuba?

Any apps that do not require access to the internet will work fine in Cuba.

My music, my podcasts, and most of my games are fine.
In the UK I use a great English – Spanish translation app, but unfortunately this does NOT work in Cuba!

If you want to use an app in Cuba, check that it works without data connection before relying on it in Cuba.

What’s the Mobile Phone signal coverage like in Cuba?

The mobile phone coverage in Cuba is pretty good.

You can get a mobile phone signal in all the major cities like Havana, Varadero, Santa Clara, Trinidad and Cienfuegos.

You can also get a pretty decent signal in Viñales. Surprisingly, the signal on the island of Cayo Levisa was also good; however I’ve struggled with getting a signal at Cayo Jutias.

GPRS is available in most cities and Edge (sometimes known as 2.5G) is available in some resort areas (e.g. Varadero).  

Can I buy a local SIM in Cuba? 

There is no pay-as-you-go option for mobile phones in Cuba.

Only Cuban residents, (someone with a Cuba Identity Card), can legally buy a local SIM in Cuba. Cubacel charge a non-refundable 50CUC to set up the line, and you are obliged to top up by 10CUC every two months, if you don’t the line will be forfeited, and you will lose the 50CUC.

Can I rent a Mobile phone in Cuba?

Yes you can.

If you rent a phone, there is a 100CUC refundable deposit, plus 7CUC per day rental for the equipment and 3CUC per day rental for a line (total 10CUC per day – approx. £6.50 per day), plus any calls that you make.

If you bring your own phone, it’s only 3CUC per day to rent a line, but you’ll have to take out a minimum of 10CUC credit to use the phone.

For your phone to be activated for use in Cuba, it must be GSM900 MHz band width. A tri-band phone is even better.

If you have an iPhone you might not be able to get a micro-SIM, so you might need to cut a standard SIM.

If you are in Havana, two suggestions for Cubacel offices where you can get your mobile phone operational are:-

  1. 1.Cubacel in Miramar (Calle 28 #510, Tel 05-880-2222 or 05-264-2266 for client attention).
  2. 2.Cubacel at José Martí International Airport, where it has offices in both Terminals #2#3.

The process is usually time-consuming (and frustrating), beware of long queues.

SIM cards (pre-paid with a certain amount of time on it) are available from all Cubacel offices and enable you to call anywhere in Cuba and receive calls. These can be bought for 10CUC 20CUC or 40CUC each.

Should I unlock my phone before I go to Cuba?

Unlocking would only be relevant if you wanted to put in a local SIM card, which is only relevant if you want to buy or rent a Cubacel SIM.
If you have an iPhone you might not be able to get a micro-SIM, so you might need to cut a standard SIM.

 

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