Obama: New Google deal will bring wifi, broadband to Cuba

U.S. President Barack Obama waves from the steps of Air Force One as he arrives at Havana's international airport for a three-day trip, in Havana March 20, 2016. © Reuters
President Barack Obama began his historic three-day visit to Cuba Sunday and, despite landing in the country just hours ago, POTUS has already signaled major changes ahead for the island nation.

During a morning interview with ABC News, Obama announced that Google has reached a deal to start setting up more wifi and broadband access in the country.

"We have already administratively loosened some of the embargoes so that not only financial services and tourism, but also information companies can start coming here,” Obama said while discussing the prospects ahead for political and economic change in Cuba.

Tourists and local residents take pictures as U.S. President Barack Obama (not pictured) tours Old Havana with his family at the start of a three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 20, 2016. © Carlos Barria

When ABC anchor David Muir mentioned that fewer than 5 percent of homes in Cuba have internet access, Obama responded:

“One of the things that we'll be announcing is that Google has a deal to start setting up more WIFI access and broadband access on the island and over time, if in fact, we start seeing access to the internet - which is necessary for Cuba to enter into the 21st century economically - invariably that gives the Cuban people more information and allows them to have more of a voice."

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When asked how quickly Cubans can expect these momentous changes to take effect, Obama said Raul Castro, the current president of Cuba, “understands” that “change is going to happen here”.

U.S. President Barack Obama tours Old Havana with his family at the start of a three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 20, 2016.  © Carlos Barria

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They would like to control the speed of it,” the US President added. “We think that rather than have change happen to you, it's better for you to get out in front of change. The government has the ability to recognize where the future is, and start preparing the ground."

U.S. President Barack Obama's daughters Malia (C) and Sasha (R) arrive with their parents at the Jose Marti international airport at the start of a three-day visit to Cuba, in Havana March 20, 2016. © Carlos Barria

Asked if he was anticipating a "Berlin Wall moment" in Cuba-US relations, Obama said that the Cuban people recognize that "America can be their partner" into the future.

Obama’s trip to Cuba marks the first time a US president has visited the island in 88 years as he intensifies his campaign to end decades of hostility between the nations. It’s just over a year since Cuban-US diplomatic relations were restored.

Local residents look at the motorcade transporting U.S. President Barack Obama and his family as they arrive for a three-day trip, in Havana, Cuba March 20, 2016. © Carlos Barria