Google Inks Cuba Deal, Boosting Commercial Ties

Politico

By: Adam Behsudi

A deal signed on Monday between Google and a Cuban telecom service provider aims to speed up Cubans’ access to YouTube videos and other Google content — and it also marks another boost in commercial ties between the two nations that the Obama administration says will help cement the president’s legacy of easing relations with the island country.

The agreement with ETECSA “involves participation of Google's Global Cache program, which places copies of digital content on servers within the target country's communications network,” Pro Technology’s Nancy Scola reports. “Such local caching, as it is called, could help Cubans make the most of their often spotty and expensive internet connections, as their computers and mobile phones will no longer have to reach outside the country to servers hosted in the U.S. and elsewhere to grab Google content.”

Google officials said in a blog post announcing the deal that the project flows from "the core values of Google: ensuring that all the world's information accessible and useful to all, regardless of cost, connectivity, or language barriers." It comes as the Obama administration, unsure how Trump will act toward Cuba once in office, is working to wrap up commercial deals that the president has said will make the U.S. openings to Cuba “irreversible.”

Proponents of lifting the economic embargo against Cuba praised the Google deal on Monday for allowing faster internet access to help Cuban people overall and business owners and entrepreneurs in particular. James Williams, president of the advocacy group Engage Cuba, said in a statement that the agreement was a “positive step forward” to help Cubans “connect to the rest of the world,” but that Congress still needs to lift the decades-old embargo.