Google and Cuba agree to cooperate to improve Internet performance on the island.
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., signed the deal with Mayra Arevich Marin, president of state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA. It grants Cubans speedy access to the Google Global Cache network, which stores content from sites such as Gmail and YouTube on servers located closer to end users.
Cuba has one of the lowest internet access rates in the world.
Last year, just one-third of Cubans went online, according to official statistics.
In a country where public internet access is slow and expensive, it was not clear how the deal would affect service in the short term. According to Jose Ramon Paz owner of Quik, a Miami-based telecom and Internet access provider, says, “it will definitely improve the performance of Google’s products in Cuba and may possible have a secondary benefit for all of Cuba’s Internet users.”
Currently, all data arrives via fiber optic cable from Venezuela.
“This deal allows ETECSA to use our technology to reduce latency by caching some of our most popular high-bandwidth content, like YouTube videos, at a local level,” a Google statement said.
“Cubans who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service and reduced latency for cached content,” Marian Croak, vice president of access strategy and emerging markets, and Brett Perlmutter, head of strategy and operations at Google Cuba, said in a blog post.
Google will place computer servers on the ground in Cuban which will store content from sites like Gmail and YouTube. This initiative will help Google to speed up its services in the island and potentially enable the company to sell ads.
Chinese Firm Still Dominates Cuba’s Internet Expansion
According to an ETECSA statement in January, a pilot project to bring broadband internet into Cuban homes is moving forward. Business can also request broadband internet including cafes, bars and restaurants.
The announcement was made by Odalys Rodríguez del Toro, ETECSA’s director for Havana.
New broadband Internet services will be made available through fiber optic connections operated with Chinese telecom operator Huawei.