Google Signs Deal With Cuba To Boost Struggling Internet Speeds

Google has taken a small but potentially important step towards improving Internet speeds in Cuba. To that end, the Mountain View firm announced today that it has signed an agreement with Cuba's state-run telecommunications company to deploy servers in the region to boost speeds to Google's services, such as Gmail and YouTube.

The deal will provide Google's Global Cache service to Cuba. By allowing the government-run telecommunications company ETECSA to use its technology and local servers, it can serve up access to Google's services at reduced latencies by caching some of its more popular high-bandwidth content at a local level.


"This in turn means Cubans who already have access to the internet and want to use our services can expect to see an improvement in terms of quality of service and reduced latency for cached content," Google said.

Unfortunately this isn't likely to significantly change the landscape. Cuba has one of the lowest online connectivity rates, which is the result of a combination of low bandwidth, limited availability, high costs, and government censorship. Only about a quarter of the island's 11 million residents are online. In stark contrast, the online connection rate in the United States is more than 84 percent.

ETECSA has been installing Wi-Fi hotspots in some of Cuba's bigger cities, though costs remain high. Google's deal doesn't really expand service to the region, but it is a step in the right direction. It might also encourage other companies to ink deals with Cuba to improve the overall Internet situation, assuming Cuba is more open to having U.S. firms help wire the country.