What started out as an effort to normalize the relation between two nations has today finally taken the first official step in the desired direction. The former Obama administration reopened diplomatic relations with Cuba last year and American search giant Google, as expected, was the first to volunteer to normalize internet access to its services in the nation. Their efforts have today gone live and the Cuban population with Internet access can reap the benefits.
Back in December, Google (or its parent Alphabet) decided to make its way into this communist-run island by signing an agreement with their local telecom provider ETECSA. And today, they’ve flipped the switch on the local servers, making Google the first foreign Internet company to host its content in the long cut-off country. This development was first reported by BuzzFeed News.
This doesn’t mean that the renowned search platform didn’t already have a presence on the Cuban island. It’s just that those services would now be accessible at better speeds and low latency, thus enhancing the user experience. Now, how is this being made possible would be the question swirling about your head?
As part of its agreement with the country’s telecom monopoly ETECSA, the search giant is providing them with access to the Google Global Cache network. This means Cuba now has servers that are connected to Google’s global network of caching servers, which are called GGC nodes. It’ll provide you access to the company’s services at much quicker speeds because the data is cached on the servers located in the country.
The local residents with access to the Internet, a number which isn’t quite high, will now have access to frequently requested content almost instantly. The nearest Google server will serve their content requests and the same would not have to travel long distances, i.e through the subsea cable connection which connects Cuba to the Internet through Venezuela. But, it only helps Google’s own arsenal of services and doesn’t have much effect on the internet services in the nation as a whole.
Cuba continues to be the only country in the Western hemisphere to have the lowest level of internet connectivity. The residents only have access to slow and spotty internet connection through public WiFi hotspots across the country. According to a U.N agency, only a meager 3.4 percent Cuban homes which had internet or intranet access last year. Google is also planning to improve the situation by connecting the country to the outer world.
Google’s state-run telecommunication partner, ETECSA has just recently kicked off a pilot program to bring internet connectivity to over 2,000 homes throughout the country. This internet service will still cost more than $15 for 30 hours of services — which is costly for sub-par and slow connection speeds of only 128 kilobytes per second (kbps).