Page last updated at 11:24 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 12:24 UK

Cubans snapping up mobile phones

Man using a mobile phone in Havana
Hundreds of people queued up to buy phones when restrictions were eased

Cubans are reported to have taken out 7,400 new mobile phone contracts in the 10 days since restrictions were eased.

The figures, reported by the AFP news agency, were issued by the country's state telecoms company Etecsa.

Etecsa expects to sell 1.4 million new mobile phone contracts in Cuba in the next five years.

Until President Raul Castro lifted restrictions, mobile phones could only be bought by government officials and people working for foreign firms.

Since taking over from his brother, Raul Castro has lifted a number of restrictions on Cubans, including those on renting cars and buying DVDs.

The number of new mobile phone contracts is impressive given that it costs about 60 just to set up a new contract while the average monthly salary in Cuba is less than 10.

In the past, many Cubans used illegal phones or asked permitted users to sign up on their behalf.

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