Google becomes first foreign tech firm to set up shop in Cuba
The local data center opened by Google will hold information such as YouTube videos for streaming rather than having to connect through the long submarine cable that links the country to the internet.
The move provides Cubans with an opportunity to access the web through the nearest Google server in their country.
“I think this will be very noticeable for Cubans. The internet in Cuba will still be a painfully slow process. This is just another somewhat rare step forward. For Google services, which will be hosted in the country, it will be a milestone,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at the global internet monitoring company Dyn.
Even with the changing political landscape and more openness in Cuba, the country still has the lowest level of internet connectivity in the western hemisphere.
Most people can only log on to the internet through 240 public access Wi-Fi hotspots dotted around the country. An hour of internet time costs around $1.50. That is almost unaffordable for the majority of Cubans, whose average salary is about $25 per month.
The Cuban government’s monopoly telecom Etecsa has recently started a pilot program providing internet connections to 2,000 homes. However, as soon as the pilot is over, Cubans will have to pay $15 for 30 hours of internet at a slow speed of 128 kilobytes per second.
Google admits the move to localize the servers will not have any visible impact on the situation with no increase in internet access for an average Cuban.
“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,” Google executives wrote in a blog shortly after the deal between Havana and the tech giant was signed.