In a country where public internet access is limited to slow and expensive Wi-Fi hot spots, it was not clear how the deal would actually impact service in the short term.
“Telecoms and greater internet connectivity have been key pillars of the new U.S. policy toward Cuba, and Cuba has developed its own national development strategy to bring greater internet access to its people,” said Alana Tummino, senior director at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas and head of their Cuba Working Group.
Tummino said that while there is still a tremendous amount of trust building Google — and other companies — must build with Cuban officials, the deal shows a path to more potential telecoms deals down the line.
“Google has been able to successfully build these relationships over time through many visits to the island, while gaining a better understanding of the market,” Tummino said. “To be clear, we are not going to see all Cuban’s walking around glued to their smartphones tomorrow. There is a long way to go to truly develop Cuba’s telecom market, but this is a step in the direction to create greater connectivity and access which is positive.”
“This deal allows ETECSA to use our technology to reduce latency by caching some of our most popular high bandwidth content like YouTube videos at a local level,” a Google statement said.
“This may improve reception of cached materials, but not for example email which depends on local bandwidth,” a local telecommunications technician said, requesting anonymity for fear of losing his job.