California-based Google has opened is technology center in the city of Havana, Republic of Cuba. The facility has twenty Chrome notebooks, one hundred Google cardboard virtual reality visors, and two cameras for transmitting video to YouTube, owned by Google.
Republic of Cuba government-operated Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba S.A. (ETEC S.A.) is providing the facility with high-speed Internet, which is not available to the public. The facility will be open five days a week and can accommodate forty customers (limited to one hour per session).
Reportedly, the partner in the Republic of Cuba is paying approximately US$900.00 per month to ETEC SA for high-speed Internet access- which provides the users of Chrome notebooks with a connection approximately seventy-times that of existing Wi-Fi locations throughout the Republic of Cuba.
According to ETEC SA, as of March 2016, an average of 200,000 people per day access the Internet from eighty-five (85) public Wi-Fi hotspots located throughout the country; in December 2015, the number was 150,000 users per day. ETEC SA plans to create an additional sixty (60) wi-fi hot spots and establish one hundred (100) Internet cafes in 2016. As of 31 December 2015, there were three hundred and forty-five (345) Internet cafes with a combined 11,187 computers. The Republic of Cuba has 11.3 million citizens.
The Republic of Cuba accesses the Internet through an undersea fiber-optic cable connected to Venezuela in 2011, which became fully-operational in 2013.
From Google on 21 March 2016:
"¡Adelante! We’re thrilled to partner with the Museo Orgánico Romerillo in Havana, Cuba, which is showcasing the work of local artist Kcho. It will also feature some of the latest Google products including Cardboard and Chromebooks, connected to local carrier ETECSA’s Internet network. We hope this installation will enable people for whom Internet access is scarce to browse the web and find information.
We’re excited that Cuban children will be able to try out virtual reality to explore sites from around the world -- from Stonehenge to Port Hercule -- the same way that children in other countries do. These efforts, which are all led by our Access team, are just a start, but an important one. They demonstrate what might be possible in the future.
They come as other US technology firms and other companies increase their efforts in Cuba to bring a variety of services to the island -- including potentially WiFi and broadband providers as well. We’re also exploring additional possibilities around increasing and improving internet access, but they’re at early stages. We’ve always been very open about the fact that we want to make available as many of our products as possible throughout the world, because we believe that access to information and technology can improve lives.
In 2014, we launched Google Chrome, Google Play for Free Apps, and Google Analytics in Cuba. Later, after steps were taken toward normalizing relations between Cuba and the US, we introduced Toolbar in Cuba in January 2015 to help people search the web more easily.
We know, from the experience of many countries around the world, that new technologies and improved internet access can help people in their daily lives, provide new information and experiences, and help harness a country’s creativity and ingenuity. We hope to have the chance to offer more services to the Cuban people in the future."