The trade embargoes down (and Castro gone), Google and the Cuban government have just inked a deal that will allow for the internet giant to provide faster access to its data by installing more servers on the island. These servers will store more of the company’s most popular content so Cubans can have better access to it.
Storing this Google data in Cuba will override the impressively long distances that would be normally required to travel from the island through Venezuela and to the nearest Google server. It has been more than five decades since the US cut economic ties with the island nation, so we now have no direct link between us.
Obviously, then, this deal would remove one of many obstacles for “normal” internet in Cuba, which currently suffers from some of the worst—and yet most expensive—web service in the world. Indeed, home connections are actually illegal for most Cubans, and the government charges what equates to the average monthly salary for just 10 hours of public access to WiFi ports; and that is still considering that the speeds are frequently too slow to watch streaming video or even to download [what could be important] personal files.
“Cubans who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement,” Google Cuba vice president of access strategy and emerging markets, Marian Croak, and head of strategy and operations, Brett Perlmutter, in a recent blog post.
Again, this offering will only improve popular Google sites like YouTube and Gmail—which could now load as much as 10 times faster—but will not affect Cuba’s existing, and aging communications infrastructure.
On its website, the company wrote, on Monday, “Taken together, all these projects are tied to Google’s core values to make the world’s information useful and accessible to everyone regardless of cost, connectivity, and language barriers.”
For now, this plan might only improve internet access for a small number of Cubans who do have existing access. Of course, we could probably assume that Google hopes to increase that number (less than 5 percent, currently) in the future.