[telecom] cell phone query re: Cuba

There's a political/criminal case going on in Cuba right now where a US citizen, Alan Gross, is charged with some pretty scary (in regards to potential punishment) crimes against the State.

Basically they're accusing him of working for an arm of the US gov't to encourage rebellion.

Leaving aside all the politics there's a point I'm having trouble understanding.

One claim is that he was distributing cell phones to the community there.

Anyone know how that could possibly work? There's no way a handheld cell phone would reach any "Western" (as in US or carribean island) towers. And even if they were frequency and format compatable with whatever Cuba's using, they'd need to have accounts established with the carrier.

Any ideas? Thanks

_____________________________________________________ Knowledge may be power, but communications is the key snipped-for-privacy@panix.com [to foil spammers, my address has been double rot-13 encoded]

Reply to
danny burstein
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Cuba has normal GSM phone service, which (in theory) anyone can use who has enough hard currency to pay for it:

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R's, John

Reply to
John Levine

Could he have been distributing sat-phones?

Reply to
Rich Greenberg

Cuba does have a cell phone carrier.

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Several years ago the US and/or Cuba (I forget the details) allowed sending cell phones to Cuba. I found a link to the article about this, but the link had expired. Perhaps someone else can elaborate.

But you're right. Distributing handsets doesn't do a whole lot of good with the state-owned network doesn't allow access. But then again, this is Cuba we're talking about.

Reply to
John Mayson

It does not seem clear exactly what the hardware was that he had. Various reports said:

Apparently Cuba uses GSM900, but you are correct that one would need to purchase access from the local cellco, and it does not seem like the government would feel threatened by that (since like other national governments, they can tap that system). There are reports that previously Gross had set up satellite communications systems in Iraq and Afghanistan, which would probably pique the Cuban government's interest. It sounds like cell phones (unless maybe one calls a satellite phone a "cell phone") are really not at the heart of the matter, but rather perhaps direct satellite internet access not going through the approved ISPs.

But the trial is secret, so who knows.


Reply to
Dave Garland

You could have a GSM phone work in any country without using that country's SIM if the phone has a foreign SIM and uses international roaming.

Lir>> There's a political/criminal case going on in Cuba right

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