If a recent trip by Google’s Eric Schmidt is any indication, Cuba may be considering easing its heavy restrictions on Internet access. Unconfirmed reports are suggesting that Google may have sent a team to the island nation to meet with Cuban officials. The discussions would likely involve promoting the benefits of an open Internet.
If expanded Internet access is indeed Schmidt’s goal, it would be in keeping with the duties of his position as executive chairman, which include responsibility “for the external matters of Google: building partnerships and broader leadership, as well as advising the CEO and senior leadership on business and policy issues,” according to company’s management profile. Schmidt’s team includes Jared Cohen, who is known for promoting open Internet access in restrictive countries.
At the moment, Internet access in Cuba is abysmal. Few Cubans have access, and most who connect must do so through office or hotel computers. Cuba recently opened 118 public Internet access locations
, but the fee of $4.5 an hour is likely to deter many users in a country where $20 is the average monthly salary.