Google and the Cuban government have signed a deal allowing the internet giant to provide faster access to its data by installing servers on the island that will store much of the company’s most popular content.
Storing Google data in Cuba eliminates the long distances that signals must travel from the island through Venezuela to the nearest Google server. Washington has no direct data link to the communist island.
US has had virtually no economic ties with Cuba for more than five decades owing to Washington-imposed trade sanctions.
But hopes of better relations have been revived since 2015, when US President Barack Obama re-established diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc, signed the deal with Mayra Arevich Marin, president of state telecommunications monopoly ETECSA, on Monday.
The deal removes one of the many obstacles to a normal internet in Cuba, which suffers from some of the world’s most limited and expensive access.
But the move is not expected to help a significant number of Cubans to have internet access, at least in the short term.
Home connections remain illegal for most Cubans and the government charges the equivalent of a month’s average salary for 10 hours of access to public wi-fi spots with speeds frequently too slow to download files or watch streaming video.
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Featured image courtesy of Reuters.