Cuba gets faster access to Google content

  | James Innes

US technology giant Google has just signed a deal with Cuba’s state-run telecoms company ETECSA, that will allow local users faster access to their content. Under the terms of the deal, Google will install servers in Cuba which will improve connectivity speed to their services, including Gmail and YouTube.

Cuba has one of the lowest online connectivity rates in the world, with the majority of the population forbidden from accessing the internet at home, relying instead on expensive Wi-Fi points to get online.

The agreement, which was signed in Havana by Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. and Marya Arevich Marin, ETECSA’s president, is a step forward, although it will probably do little to improve overall online access for the average Cuban.

However, the fact the deal itself has taken place is significant, and reflects the thawing of US-Cuban relations after decades of hostility and mistrust. President Barack Obama normalised relations between the two countries earlier this year, and it is perhaps no coincidence that the deal has been struck in the last weeks of his presidency. It is also perhaps no coincidence either that the agreement comes into force just a few weeks after the death of Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, and long regarded by many Americans as an implacable foe.

Incoming president Donald Trump has made arguments for, and against, closer ties with their Caribbean neighbour s but, at this stage, it is not clear what his administration’s definitive policy will be on Cuba. However, it is unlikely that any actions taken will impact the deal, so Cuban users will soon get their share of pop videos, cute puppies and product reviews like the rest of the world.

In a statement, Google said: ”This deal allows ETECSA to use our technology to reduce latency by catching some of our most popular high bandwidth content like YouTube videos at a local level.”

Source BBC

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