Google makes in-roads in Cuba

In a move that has geo-economic and geo-political implications, the parent of search engine giant Google Inc. has expanded its footprint in the Americas by signing a deal with the Cuban government which allows improved internet access to Cuban citizens and integrate them into the global economy. Increased economic cooperation with the U.S could make it painful for Trump to reverse them.

In a strategic movement that further consolidates Google position, the search engine giant has signed an agreement with the Cuban government which allows internet users on the island quicker access to its branded content.

The deal was signed by Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., with Mayra Arevich Marin, president of Cuba’s telecommunications monopoly, ETECSA.

Thanks to this deal, tech savvy Cubans can now access the Google Global Cache network, which stores content from sites like Gmail and YouTube on servers located closer to end users.

This appears to be a long shot by Alphabet since internet access in Cuba is excruciatingly slow and expensive. This deal could kickstart demand for better internet access in the short term.

“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,” said Google in a statement.

“This may improve reception of cached materials, but not for example email which depends on local bandwidth,” said a local telecommunications technician who requested anonymity for fear of losing his job.

Neither ETECSA nor Google were immediately available for comment.

Two years ago, President Barack Obama made improved internet access a key part of his efforts to normalize relations with Cuba.

However, the island nation has stalled the efforts of many U.S. companies to participate in wiring the country, citing national security concerns.

Due to a severe shortage in internet infrastructure development and monopolisation of the media, Cuba has lagged behind in the tech race.

As per the statistics compiled by a U.N agency, only 5.6% of Cubans have access to internet or intranet in 2015.

The deal comes midst last moment efforts to wrap up commercial accords before President Barack Obama leaves office, next month.

President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to stop cooperation between the earlier cold war foe and stall political and other concessions as well.

Gains made by Obama though executive orders, which have circumvented trade embargoes can easily be reversed by Trump once he takes office.

In s strategic move, the Obama Administration is hoping that increased commercial links between the two countries could make it painful for future administrations to undo them, which could strain U.S.-Cuba relations.

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