Google Expands Presence In Cuba- No Payment By Cuba


Making Google products work better in Cuba

From Google: “Google and Cuba’s national telecom provider ETECSA have signed an agreement to deploy the Google Global Cache service to help improve the online experience for Cubans who are using Google products. 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. 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. Our involvement with Cuba dates back to 2014, when we first launched a number of products that included Google Chrome, Google Play and Google Analytics. Just a couple of months ago we followed that up by making hundreds of thousands of free extensions and themes available on the Chrome Web Store to let Cuban users personalize their experience browsing the web with Chrome. Taken together, all these projects are tied to Google’s core values to make the world’s information useful and accessible to everyone regardless of cost, connectivity, and language barriers. Signed by Marian Croak, VP Access Strategy & Emerging Markets, and Brett Perlmutter, Head of Strategy & Operations, Google Cuba.”

From Associated Press: “Under the terms, Cuba would have access to the Google Global Cache, a network of servers that accelerates internet speeds [ten times faster than current speeds in the Republic of Cuba] for Google products, like search and YouTube, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been announced. The initiative was driven by a unit of Google called Next Billion Users whose purpose is to spread its services in developing countries. Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google parent Alphabet Inc., is expected to sign the deal next week in Havana, the person said.  Google opened a technology center in the capital city earlier this year as part of a White House initiative to expand internet access to Cuba.  A Google representative didn’t return a request for comment.”

From Associated Press: “Google is installing multiple servers in Cuba that will host much of the company's most popular content, the person said on condition of anonymity because the deal had not yet been made public. The agreement was being announced by Google chairman Eric Schmidt Monday morning in Havana.  Storing Google data in Cuba eliminates the long distances that signals must travel from the island through Venezuela to the nearest Google server. The U.S. has no direct data link to the island, contributing to painfully slow internet speeds that make sites like YouTube virtually impossible to use for many.”

From Google: “Our edge nodes (called Google Global Cache, or GGC) represent the tier of Google's infrastructure closest to our users. With our edge nodes, network operators and internet service providers deploy Google-supplied servers inside their network.  Static content that is very popular with the local host's user base, including YouTube and Google Play, is temporarily cached on edge nodes. Google's traffic management systems direct user requests to an edge node that will provide the best experience.  In some locations, we also use our edge nodes to support the delivery of other Google services, such as Google Search, by proxying traffic where it will deliver improved end-to-end performance for the end user.”

The offer from Mountain View, California-based Google does not mean the Republic of Cuba will avail itself to everything that Google makes possible for consumers.  However, further connectivity is good- especially for visitors (including tourists) and is particularly welcomed for business interests- where efficient Internet goes, commerce will follow.

What is to be celebrated.  The interest by United States companies in engagement with the Republic of Cuba or the Republic of Cuba’s continued willingness to accept donations of products and services and focus upon what brings it revenue rather than what requires expenditure?

The government of the Republic of Cuba would not choose to make payment for the services to be provided by Google; and the government of the Republic of Cuba would be unable to afford to invest in the technologies provided by Google.  

For the government of the Republic of Cuba, it will not allocate scarce resources to make payments to a United States-based company whose mission is to expand the unfettered global reach of individuals when the government of the Republic of Cuba is not (yet) prepared to accept, let alone embrace and permit to thrive a communicative network amongst its 11.4 million citizens that is challenging to control.  Currency equates with Risk.

People’s Republic of China-based companies have and continue to provide (either at no cost or with long-term favorable financing backed by the government of the People’s Republic of China) telecommunications and communications infrastructure and consumer communication devices to the Republic of Cuba.     

For the soon-to-be Trump Administration, the efforts by Google should not require an antacid; while Google is not being compensated, the company will be a catalyst, not the catalyst, in further reducing the communicative constraints imposed by the government of the Republic of Cuba.

Google Opens Technology Center In Havana... High Speed Internet For 40 At A Time
April 05, 2016

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."

Google To Support Chrome Cuba-Focused Developers
October 17, 2016

Google has informed registered Chrome developers that the company will support free extensions, themes, and apps will be extended to the Republic of Cuba commencing on 19 October 2016.

Chrome Apps

"The default language for the Cuban Chrome Store and any content with multi-language support published there will be Spanish, and any app, theme, or extension currently published to "All Regions" will be automatically published to Cuba's Chrome Web Store.

If content is not marked for All Regions it will be excluded from the Cuban store by default. Developers are encouraged to check and adjust their publishing settings as needed, as well as internationalize their store listings if they intend to distribute to multiple regions or with multiple language options.

Relaxation of U.S. export controls and sanctions towards Cuba allowed Google to distribute Chrome in late 2014, and as relations continue to improve between the two countries we should see more companies providing their services for the people of Cuba as public internet access continues to grow."