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AT&T SAYS CUBAN GOVERNMENT LIMITING CALLS TO CUBA IN HURRICANE ANDREW'S AFTERMATH

 AT&T SAYS CUBAN GOVERNMENT LIMITING CALLS
 TO CUBA IN HURRICANE ANDREW'S AFTERMATH
 WASHINGTON, Sept. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T (NYSE: T) said today communications service between the United States and Cuba has been drastically reduced because the Cuban government is accepting only a small number of calls from the United States after Hurricane Andrew damaged two company facilities in Florida Aug. 24.
 After the facilities were damaged, AT&T officials immediately arranged to relay calls to Cuba through the United Kingdom, Canada, Spain and Italy. However, AT&T officials have been informed that Cuba will now accept calls from the United States only through Italy.
 Thomas Cavanagh, managing director of AT&T operations in the Caribbean, said the Cuban government's decision means callers in the United States will find it nearly impossible to complete calls to Cuba. He said this is because the limited number of circuits between Italy and Cuba are already being used by callers from dozens of other countries.
 "There is an enormous demand for communications between the United States and Cuba," said Cavanagh. "AT&T stands ready to provide high- quality service and we hope that the mutually beneficial relationship AT&T has had with Cuba for over 70 years can be resumed soon. To have such limited service imposes a great burden on people in both countries who want to stay in touch especially in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane."
 About 60 million calls are attempted annually between the two countries, and prior to the hurricane, about 500,000 were being completed via an over-the-horizon microwave system linking the United States and Cuba.
 When Hurricane Andrew struck the U.S. mainland, it destroyed an AT&T microwave tower in Goulds, Fla., and severely damaged radio terminal facilities in Florida City. AT&T immediately conferred with telecommunications officials in Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Italy so that calls could be relayed to Cuba through their countries. However, communications officials from the U.K. and Canada told AT&T on Aug. 27 they would no longer be allowed to send calls to Cuba and yesterday, Spanish officials told AT&T the same thing -- that Cuba would not accept their calls from the United States.
 In the hurricane's aftermath, AT&T also tried unsuccessfully to persuade Cuban government officials to activate an undersea cable linking West Palm Beach, Fla., and Cojimar, a coastal city near Havana. The cable, capable of handling 143 simultaneous calls, has been in place since 1989, but negotiations with Cuba to activate it have been unsuccessful. Last February, Cuba rejected an AT&T proposal for dividing the revenues generated by long-distance calls.
 AT&T said that activating the undersea cable would permit completing an estimated additional 250,000 calls annually between the United States and Cuba. Even with the cable's activation, calling volumes are so high that people still would encounter delays making calls.
 On Dec. 17, 1991, the U.S. Treasury Department, which is responsible for enforcing the 30-year-old American trade embargo against Cuba, said it would allow AT&T to make limited payments to Cuba representing a portion of the revenues generated by calls over the new coaxial cable system awaiting service. Also, in 1989, the Treasury Department agreed that AT&T could reimburse some $400,000 to the Cuban government for that government's capital costs connected with shore-end installation of the cable in Cuba. Treasury also told AT&T it could pay up to $210,000 annually to the Cuban government for cable maintenance costs on the Cuban end once the cable is in service.
 AT&T first inaugurated service between the United States and Cuba via undersea cable in 1921. As that cable and subsequent ones were phased out of service, AT&T has been providing service via the over-the- horizon microwave radio system. The company sought and received U.S. government approval in 1987 to install the undersea cable to improve service between the two countries. The cable has been in place since 1989 with its activation awaiting resolution of the funds distribution issue.
 -0- 9/1/92 R
 /CONTACT: Jim McGann, 202-457-3942, or at home, 301-585-5519, or Herb Linnen, 202-457-3933, or at home, 202-333-9l62, both of AT&T/
 (T) CO: AT&T ST: New Jersey, Florida IN: TLS SU:


SB -- NY024 -- 5354 09/01/92 10:45 EDT
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Date:Sep 1, 1992
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