Speaking to a group of reporters while touring Havana yesterday, Obama indicated that Google will be offering wi-fi service in Cuba.
Obama said, “one of the things that we’ll be announcing here is that Google has a deal to start setting up more wi-fi and broadband access on the island.”
In January, Cuba’s state telecommunications company, ETESCA, announced a pilot project to bring broadband internet into Cuban homes and businesses.
That new broadband Internet services will be made available through fiber optic connections operated with Chinese telecom operator Huawei. It is unclear how Google will operate in Cuba.
Until now, the Cuban government has not warmed to the idea of US Internet technology companies operating in Cuba. In July 2015, Google executives traveled to Cuba and probed the government’s willingness to allow the search engine giant to scale up free island-wide wifi broadband Internet access almost overnight.
Cuba’s Vice President, José Ramón Machado Ventura, M.D., responded to Google’s offer to install free wifi throughout Cuba:
“Everyone knows why there is no Internet in Cuba, because it is costly. There are some who want to give it to us for free, but do not do it so that the Cuban people can communicate, but in order to penetrate us and to do ideological work to achieve a new conquest. We must have Internet, but in our way, knowing that it is the intention of imperialism’s to handle it as a way to destroy the Revolution.”
It appears things are changing in Cuba.