HAVANA (AP) - For the first time, average Cubans are eligible to sign up for internet service for their mobile phones.

The start of wireless service over smartphones and tablets is a development long awaited on the communist-ruled island.

Users began receiving text messages Thursday morning from the state telephone monopoly informing them they can buy internet access packages for 3G service.

Until now, nearly all Cubans could use their mobile phones only to get their state-run email accounts unless they connected to the internet at a limited number of government-sponsored Wi-Fi spots.

Government officials and foreign businesspeople could use their mobiles anywhere to access the 3G network in recent years, though the service wasn't always reliable.