Google to give Cubans faster ac­cess to con­tent

‘Will­ing to go a lit­tle fur­ther with Google’

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Google and the Cuban gov­ern­ment have struck a deal giv­ing Cubans faster ac­cess to the in­ter­net gi­ant’s con­tent, two peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the agree­ment said Fri­day. Eric Sch­midt, chair­man of Google’s par­ent com­pany, will for­mally sign the deal Mon­day morn­ing in Ha­vana, the two peo­ple said. They spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause the agree­ment has not yet been pub­licly an­nounced.

It al­lows Cubans ac­cess to a net­work called Google Global Cache that stores con­tent from Google-run sites like Gmail, Google Drive and YouTube on servers that sit within rel­a­tively short dis­tances of their end users around the world. Cuba suf­fers from some of the world’s slow­est in­ter­net speeds due to a range of prob­lems that in­clude the con­vo­luted, and thus slower, paths that data must travel be­tween Cuban users and servers that are of­ten in the US.

Cuban of­fi­cials ap­pear to be ac­cel­er­at­ing their ap­provals of deals with US com­pa­nies in an at­tempt to build mo­men­tum be­hind US-Cuba nor­mal­iza­tion be­fore Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump takes of­fice next month. The Google pact will be an­nounced less than a week af­ter Cuba gave three US cruise com­pa­nies per­mis­sion to be­gin sail­ing to the is­land next year. Of­fi­cials fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions say other deals, in­clud­ing one with Gen­eral Elec­tric, are in the works. The US and Cuba have struck a se­ries of bi­lat­eral deals on is­sues rang­ing from en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion to di­rect mail since the dec­la­ra­tion of de­tente on Dec 17, 2014, but busi­ness ties have failed to keep pace.

Weak links in the chain

The Cuban gov­ern­ment has blamed the US trade em­bargo on Cuba. Many US busi­nesses say Cuba has been mov­ing on most pro­pos­als so slowly that some sus­pect the gov­ern­ment has been de­lib­er­ately lim­it­ing the de­vel­op­ment of eco­nomic ties. The Google pro­gram to be an­nounced Mon­day could pro­vide am­mu­ni­tion for US ad­vo­cates of closer ties with Cuba. Both pro-de­tente forces and those ar­gu­ing for a hard line on Pres­i­dent Raul Cas­tro’s sin­gle-party gov­ern­ment have been push­ing for Cubans to have bet­ter ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion.

If the Google deal proves to truly im­prove in­ter­net ac­cess for a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of Cubans, it ties in­for­ma­tion ac­cess to US-Cuban de­tente in a way that could prove po­lit­i­cally dif­fi­cult to undo for anti-Cas­tro of­fi­cials in the in­com­ing Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear if the Cuba server or servers would be on the is­land it­self, or just closer than cur­rent ones. Nei­ther was it clear how much faster Cuban users would be able to see Google con­tent - home in­ter­net con­nec­tions re­main il­le­gal for vir­tu­ally all Cubans, forc­ing them to use pub­lic WiFi spots that are of­ten shared by dozens of peo­ple at a time and run at achingly slow speeds.

“There are many other weak links in the chain,” said Larry Press, a Cal­i­for­nia-based ex­pert on the Cuban in­ter­net. He said that while the tech­no­log­i­cal im­pact of the deal re­mained un­clear, it was a sig­nif­i­cant de­vel­op­ment for a coun­try that has shied away from any ties be­tween US com­pa­nies and a telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­fra­struc­ture that is closely guarded against real or imag­ined threats to na­tional se­cu­rity. “It’s also a sign that they’re will­ing to go a lit­tle fur­ther with Google,” Press said. — AP

— AP

CUBA: In this April 1, 2014 file photo, stu­dents gather be­hind a busi­ness look­ing for an In­ter­net sig­nal for their smart phones in Ha­vana, Cuba.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.